NEW YORK: ChatGPT, Silicon Valley’s latest app sensation, has investors rushing to find the next big thing in generative AI, the technology that some hail as the beginning of a new era in big tech.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been increasingly present in everyday life for decades, but the November launch of the conversational robot from start-up OpenAI marked a turning point in its perception by the general public and investors.

“Every so often we have platforms that come along and result in an explosion of new companies. We saw this with the internet and mobile, and AI could be the next platform.” said Shernaz Daver of California-based Khosla Ventures.

Generative AI, of which ChatGPT is an example, wades through oceans of data to conjure up original content — an image, a poem, a thousand-word essay — in seconds and upon a simple request.

Since its discrete release in late November, ChatGPT has become one of the fastest growing apps ever and pushed Microsoft and Google to rush out projects that had until now stayed carefully guarded over fears that the technology wasn’t yet ready for the public.

“Just five days after its release, a million people used ChatGPT — about 60 times faster than it took Facebook to reach one million users,” said Wayne Hu, a partner at SignalFire, another venture capital firm.

“Suddenly investors are all talking about how ChatGPT might eliminate millions of knowledge worker jobs, disrupt trillion-dollar industries, and fundamentally change the way we learn, consume, and make decisions,” he said.

The explosion of generative AI comes at an otherwise morose time for the tech sector, with tens of thousands of layoffs cascading through the world’s biggest companies as well as smaller ones that are struggling for survival.

“While other categories are facing a contraction in valuations and raising capital, generative AI companies are not,” said Daver.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2023

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