From AlphaGO to ChatGPT Public Talk

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

students listening to Pascal Poupart's public talk on ChatGPT

The Faculty of Math Data Science Graduate Programs at the University of Waterloo sponsored a talk by Professor Pascal Poupart, an expert in artificial intelligence. In front of a full room of more than 200 people, he shared the key technological advances and paradigm shifts in recent years that facilitated breakthroughs in AlphaGO, ChatGPT, AlphaFold, and other newer AI technologies.

Prof. Poupart took us on a journey through the paradigm shift that moved from the traditional method of programming computers for specific tasks, to providing examples for machines to learn from, which enables them to essentially program themselves, becoming more adaptive and self-evolving.

"New paradigm shift from traditional programming, to providing examples to a machine that essentially programs itself."

The evolution of language models up to mid-2021 seemed to follow the notion that "bigger is better", in the sense that the more parameters and "examples" the model had, the better it seemed to perform. However, through advances in machine learning and deep learning, models are being optimized to work better without requiring the extreme amounts of data.

GPT is constantly evolving, such as with OpenAI's InstructGPT, which was their first popular model to use reinforcement learning and human feedback. ChatGPT now allows multi-turn conversations, and GPT-4 allows text and image input combining computer vision to provide a response.

Prof Poupart predicts that the future of language models and AI includes automated programming, a transition to natural conversation-based user interfaces, AI driven optimization, and accelerated scientific discovery, such as speeding up the exploratory phase of designing new materials. 

"The same technology behind ChatGPT can be used to solve scientific problems like the design and exploration of new materials that have desirable properties for industrial processes."

Thanks so much to Professor Poupart for this inspiring talk, we were so pleased to have an expert in the field take us through this journey.

You can view a recording of this public talk on our YouTube account.