Meta's AI expert: ChatGPT is not revolutionary but 'nicely done'

Yann LeCun, Meta's chief artificial intelligence (AI) scientist shared his thoughts on ChatGPT.
Loukia Papadopoulos

ChatGPT has been making headlines worldwide, but not all are impressed. Yann LeCun, Meta's chief artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, had some harsh words for the program in an hour-and-a-half talk hosted by the Collective[i] Forecast. This online, interactive discussion series is organized by Collective[i].

What exactly did he have to say? ZDNET attended the session and reported on it.

"In terms of underlying techniques, ChatGPT is not particularly innovative," said LeCun on Zoom last week. 

"It's nothing revolutionary, although that's the way it's perceived in the public," said LeCun. "It's just that, you know, it's well put together, it's nicely done."

Is ChatGPT overrated?

He noted that such systems had been built before by other companies; they simply hadn’t gained the popularity of ChatGPT.

"OpenAI is not particularly an advance compared to the other labs, at all," explained LeCun.

"It's not only just Google and Meta, but there are half a dozen startups that basically have very similar technology to it," said LeCun. "I don't want to say it's not rocket science, but it's really shared, there's no secret behind it if you will."

In many ways, ChatGPT was a group effort as it brought together multiple pieces of technology developed over many years by many parties. 

"You have to realize, ChatGPT uses Transformer architectures that are pre-trained in this self-supervised manner," said LeCun. "Self-supervised learning is something I've been advocating for a long time, even before OpenAI existed.”

FAIR to catch up to OpenAI

New York Times journalist Cade Metz also asked the scientist if Meta's AI team, called FAIR, will ever be identified in the public mind with breakthroughs the way that OpenAI is. 

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"Are we going to see this from Meta? Yeah, we're going to see this," answered LeCun. "And not just text generation, but also creation aids." Part of these efforts will include “generative art," which, he said, "I think is going to be a big thing."

But where FAIR will really shine is in helping small businesses promote themselves, he explained. 

"There's something like 12 million shops that advertise on Facebook, and most of them are mom-and-pop shops, and they just don't have the resources to design a new, nicely designed ad," concluded LeCun. "So for them, generative art could help a lot."

But not all agree with Le Cun. Just two days ago, Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said that ChatGPT-like AI would destroy Google's business in two years.

Launched in November last year (2022), ChatGPT has become a key destination for the masses to ask questions they want thorough, nuanced answers to. Instead of delivering a response to a search result that runs into tens of pages, ChatGPT answers the questions in a conversational style that is user-friendly, readily available, and easy to understand.

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