I’ve been working around the edges of machine learning and AI for many years now. We implemented some basic machine learning in the startup I was running in 2006 and I watched as many other startups implemented similar things during the 2010s. As an investor at BGV I’ve seen our portfolio companies use AI to differing extents to build successful businesses and have a positive impact.
So I knew that the recent spate of LLM innovation was coming. It’s impressive to see what companies like OpenAI and others have achieved. There’s something uncanny about the interactions you have with ChatGPT or Bard and the like and I’ve watched it already have an impact on the stuff I read.
Unfortunately, the most obvious thing in my case is inbound unsolicited marketing emails. As I’m fairly public about my contact details, I’ve always had a fair amount of speculative sales messages from recruiters, outsourced software development houses, lead generation and many other services that I just never use. It doesn’t get flagged as spam but I use software called Sanebox (itself an interesting application of machine learning) to filter it and then have a quick scan once a day.
In the last couple of months, the nature of those emails has changed. They are now mainly generated by chatGPT and the like. Because there is enough information about me and BGV in the public domain, they can ‘personalise’ the approaches in a way that wasn’t possible. I’ve also noticed a fair amount of ChatGPT generated posts on Linkedin, Twitter and the like. It’s an interesting twist to sales and marketing but it leaves me underwhelmed.
Despite how impressive the technology is, so far I’ve found limited use cases for ChatGPT in ‘doing’ any part of my job. I find it useful for sense checking and improving the quality of output but it’s not capable of fundraising or making investment decisions. It can help but it’s a long way from being a direct replacement for human activity.
I’ve been asked quite a few times in the last six month about the relationship between tech for good and AI. The short answer is that it’s no different from any other technology. A tech for good AI startup will set out to intentionally solve a particular social or environmental issue and it will measure its impact as it tries to do that. No other AI startup will be tech for good. You can’t accidentally be tech for good.
Part of the reason for this post is that I think ChatGPT and the like will lead to people writing less and that is a shame. Seeing it in action has spurred me to do something which I’ve been thinking about for a while and start blogging again.
I’m going to try to write a weekly post, usually about tech or impact investing. Maybe I’ll just be talking to the bots. Does anybody ready blogs anymore? I’m not sure!
Everything on the internet is wrong so don’t take me too seriously. But I hope it will help me improve my thinking which is something that leaving everything to AI certainly won’t.