Hello, From Cerebral Valley
We're kicking off our conference with Volley in Hayes Valley tomorrow. Our panelists have been making headlines. Also, fill out our AI survey.
We want to gauge Newcomer readers’ opinions on some of the big questions in AI.
Do you think large language models are overhyped or underhyped?
When do you think artificial general intelligence (AGI) will come into being?
Do you think AI labs should immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4?
Which foundational AI models are well-positioned to reach enduring relevance?
This week, Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque, Elon Musk, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak joined a high-profile group of artificial intelligence luminaries in signing a letter calling for a “pause” on giant AI experiments. The letter reads:
[W]e call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.
Meanwhile — also this week — integrated development startup Replit announced a high-profile partnership with Google, aimed squarely at Microsoft-owned GitHub. Stratechery newsletter writer Ben Thompson wrote Wednesday:
[T]he fact that Google did not buy Replit, and is instead choosing to partner with the startup, strikes me as another worrisome indicator that Google’s leadership is lacking in boldness. Again, the single best application of AI today in terms of productivity is coding, and that means owning the IDE is essential, but Google is settling for a partnership instead.
Both Mostaque and Replit CEO Amjad Masad are scheduled to speak with me tomorrow at the Cerebral Valley AI Summit.
I’m hosting Cerebral Valley with my friends at the voice AI game company Volley. We’ll be posting our favorite sessions on Newcomer’s YouTube channel over the next week and emailing subscribers our takeaways as news breaks. Tech reporter Tomio Geron is on hand to help keep newsletter posts flowing as I’m up on stage. (The conference is at capacity, but we hope to make you feel like you were there with the newsletter and videos.)
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Speakers and attendees are dominating the headlines.
Last week, AI productivity tool Tome announced a $43 million Series B round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Tome CEO Keith Peiris is speaking with Volley co-founder Max Child tomorrow.
OpenAI’s announcement, last week, that it was introducing plugins inadvertently put open-source company LangChain in its crosshairs. Benchmark’s Miles Grimshaw is talking with LangChain founder Harrison Chase tomorrow morning, along with Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.
Databricks — whose CEO Ali Ghodsi is speaking with Cedar’s John Curtius — announced Friday an open source model democratizing ChatGPT.
Meanwhile, Stability AI and Anthropic are reportedly raising unicorn funding rounds. Anthropic President Daniela Amodei is talking on stage with Sequoia’s Konstantine Buhler and Kumo co-founder Hema Raghavan.
Those recent developments are a better explanation than any as to why we’re hosting an AI conference right now. But I wanted to give a quick refresher on the developments that we’ve seen over the past 12 months that brought us to this moment and lay out a few of the themes that I think will come up tomorrow:
Stable Diffusion’s Starting Gun
Since Stable Diffusion fired the opening shot with the release of its viral image generation platform in August 2022, Silicon Valley has been engaged in generative artificial intelligence race.
OpenAI quickly abandoned its deliberative posture and released its image generation software, DALL-E 2, to the world. Then, in November 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT, which reached 100 million users within two months of its launch.
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The sudden appreciation of what was possible sent hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into artificial intelligence startups just as the rest of the startup world was sinking.
Tech giants then jumped in with their own chatbots powered by large language models.
Alphabet launched Bard. Microsoft is riding OpenAI’s coattails. And Meta just announced its LLaMA.