Just when ChatGPT is on a path to transform the world as we know it, a competitor rises.
By early fall, cognitive computing company VERSES will unveil its next-gen Artificial Intelligence, General Intelligent Agent (GIA) – the latest disruption in the AI ecosystem.
GIA is modeled after natural systems and the design principles of the brain and human experience, powered by KOSM, a network operating system that enables distributed intelligence between humans, machines, and AI, digitally and physically.
The buzz about ChatGPT has been unprecedented. The AI chatbot uses natural language processing to create conversational dialogue. It wows with its ability to respond to questions and compose content, be it articles, essays, code, email, or social media posts for example.
But GIA is a different paradigm altogether, turning the promise of a personal assistant that manages your personal and professional life into a reality.
“We’ve built software that can think, that can anticipate your needs, simulate, and predict on your behalf, so you do less. You’ll have your own personal assistant. It can learn about you, your strengths and weaknesses,” Gabriel René, co-founder and CEO of VERSES, told California Business Journal.
GIA learns about you — based on your historical information and activity, interactions over time and current context and conditions. If this sounds like something out of the latest sci-fi movie, well, it is. GIA is an agent that lives in the Cloud or at the Edge and can be accessed via the internet on the device of your choosing.
The idea is that GIA will simplify life and free up time for users – and René imagines a smarter world with GIA.
“What kind of breakthroughs lie beyond our need to sleep,” he says. “This is a powerful moment in time. I’m passed the information age, it’s now the intelligence age, where things operate autonomously.”
GIA is customized to learn about you and your data. “It can help you figure out anything, from how to lose 20 pounds to a new language, plan a trip, to how to save money. Every child can have a personal tutor,” he continued. .
René says he doesn’t think of his company as AI in the sense of building “artificial” intelligence. “We came out of neuroscience’s exploration of how the brain does this or that. We’re putting cognition into software.”
He points out, “ChatGPT and others doing AI look at the past to predict what the next most likely word or pixel is, what comes next. “But that has limitations. It’s not the same as thinking. VERSES develops thinking software. Think of us as the Tesla of AI, we’re a whole new architecture. ChatGPT is the hybrid Prius to our electric vehicle.”
René, author of The Spatial Web – How Web 3.0 Connects Humans, Machines, and AI to Transform the World, is the force behind this ingenuity with his team. He grew up in Northern California and as early as 19-20 years-old was working in advanced technology, experimenting with early forms of virtual and augmented reality, AI, robots, holographics, and more. “I was immersed in the future,” he says.
He saw the potential of these technologies to not just be the stuff of fiction, but real life applications, especially as there were innovations like driverless cars and Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR, a virtual reality startup.
“With all that and the Internet of Things (IoT), it was like “Oh wow, it’s about to happen, all these technologies will converge in the early 2020s,” says René of his assessment in 2017.
A year later VERSES was formed. “From our inception we wanted to use advanced technology to build a better world, not a worse one, not the kind of terrifying future often depicted in dystopian sci fi.”
There is much talk and analysis about the power, risk and challenges of AI. René is not in denial.
“AI relies on data and there are biases in data, so the recommendations AI makes can be biased, determining who gets or doesn’t get a job, or a loan, based on what happened in the past, when that’s not an accurate indicator of who should get it now.”
Furthermore, he says large language models can generate hallucinations that are plausible but simply not true.
“There’s also the explainability problem. When there are large data sets, how does AI arrive at its decisions? How do you inspect the system to know what data was involved in the decision? There are ways for AI to be accidentally or intentionally weaponized to harm people,” he says.
VERSES confronted technology’s threatening issues from the outset.
“You know how in the movies an invention ends up causing harm and the authorities have to track down the creator to fix the thing. We asked ourselves when we started what if we caused harm? We developed standards and encoded ethics in what we’re doing. We’re positioned with an antidote and will continue to build on standards.” Despite being proactive, there’s a nagging feeling, “There may be some things we haven’t thought of,” René says.
Just like in the movies groundbreaking technology can go wildly wrong, when you don’t know what you don’t know.
Ethics is such a priority, VERSES is putting together an advisory team of ethicists to ensure the safety, privacy, security, and auditability of the company’s products and processes.
René is the acting executive director of the Spatial Web Foundation, a non-profit organization developing standards for the ethical interoperability between artificial intelligence, IoT, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, and distributed computing technologies dedicated to the ethical, interoperable, and equitable adoption of Spatial Web technologies across every major industry.
When asked what VERSES means for people, René concludes, “Steve Jobs called the personal computer the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds. Well, we’re a rocket for the mind.”