Vint Cerf has been known as one of the fathers of the internet and has been heavily involved in the development of the protocols and technologies that support the internet’s architecture. Therefore, when Cerf speaks, people tend to listen.

The rise of artificial intelligence and the potential of conversational AI has caught the attention of executives across various industries. However, the warning from Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf, should be taken seriously when considering the investment of conversational AI.

At a conference in Mountain View, California, Cerf advised attendees not to rush to invest in conversational AI just because it is a hot topic. He urged people to consider the ethical issue of investing in such technology, which can sometimes fail to work as intended.

Cerf also mentioned that despite Google’s Bard conversational AI being a popular topic, it doesn’t always work as desired. He cautioned that there’s a gap between what the technology promises and what it delivers, highlighting that some chatbots cannot differentiate between a factually correct response and one that sounds correct.

Big tech companies like Google, Meta, and Microsoft are working on improving conversational AI to be more accurate, but they are still far from widely useful. The systems often contain inaccuracies and have issues with toxicity, which need to be resolved before the products are tested on the public.

Cerf reminded the crowd that the most significant problem with technology is people. He stressed that people will seek to do what is in their best interest and not what is best for others. He encouraged executives to be thoughtful and not invest in conversational AI just because it is a hot topic. Cerf explained that the technology is really cool, but it doesn’t always work as intended.

He also warned against the temptation to sell conversational AI to investors because it is a hot topic, saying that it is vital to remember that these technologies can cause harm if not used thoughtfully.

On the engineering side, Cerf believes that engineers should be responsible for taming these technologies, making them less likely to cause harm. Depending on the application, he emphasized that a poorly written fiction story is one thing, but giving advice to somebody can have medical consequences. Therefore, it is important to minimize the worst-case potential.

Cerf mentioned that he tried to ask one of the systems to attach an emoji at the end of each sentence, but it didn’t do that. When he told the system that he noticed, it apologized, but it didn’t change its behavior. He highlighted that we are still a long way from awareness or self-awareness with chatbots.

Who is Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf is an American computer scientist who is often referred to as one of the “fathers of the internet.” He is known for his work in developing the protocols and technologies that underlie the internet’s architecture.

Cerf was born on June 23, 1943, in New Haven, Connecticut, and he earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Stanford University in 1965. He then went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from UCLA in 1970 and 1972, respectively.

In the early 1970s, Cerf worked at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), where he played a key role in developing the TCP/IP protocol suite, which is still used as the basis for the internet’s communications protocols today. Cerf also helped to develop the first email system and was involved in the early development of the Domain Name System (DNS).

Cerf has been recognized with numerous awards and honors for his contributions to computer science and the internet, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 1997, and the Turing Award in 2004 (shared with Robert Kahn). He currently serves as the Chief Internet Evangelist at Google.

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