AI’s evolution will be shaped by conflicting bets on whether the technology’s fate is to keep growing more gigantic. Why it matters: “Big AI” and “small AI” chart two different futures for the tech that’s likely to dominate business and society over the next decade. A big AI win could lock in the power of today’s tech giants for decades to come, while a small AI victory could have more unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences. Big AI means building ever-bigger digital brains, betting that if you just keep adding more synapse-like nodes, your model will keep getting better — and eventually, maybe, produce human-matching or -beating skills, known as artificial general intelligence (AGI). This is how ChatGPT and the generative AI wave began in 2022. OpenAI, allied with Microsoft, is big AI’s standard-bearer, but you can be sure that every tech giant is also in this fantastically expensive game. The small AI approach predicts we’ll get better, faster and more efficient results by deploying a wider range and number of AI models fine-tuned for specific tasks or subject areas. Many small AI proponents believe that big AI will hit a wall before achieving its goal of AGI. Small AI efforts are also much more likely to be made available via open-source (or open-source-like) licensing, which allows for broad distribution and wider research. Big AI’s price tag has already made developing its most advanced models too costly for academic institutions. Meta has been the highest-profile promoter of smaller and freely distributed models — but again, many of the giants are playing here, and lots of startups too. The big picture: The tech industry is perpetually pulling in two directions. Its most powerful companies are always scaling up hardware and software, devices and services to do more and reach more people. But tech is also in the long-term game of miniaturization and personalization. That is how today’s iPhone can fill your pocket with way more computing power than the room-sized supercomputers of yore. The experts are divided over the big and small AI approaches.
About OODA Analyst
OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.