A man used AI to bring back his deceased fiancé. But the creators of the tech warn it could be dangerous and used to spread misinformation.

GPT-3 is a computer program that attempts to write like humans.
GPT-3 is a computer program that attempts to write like humans.

  • A man used artificial intelligence (AI) to create a chatbot that mimicked his late fiancé.
  • The groundbreaking AI technology was designed by Elon Musk’s research group OpenAI.
  • OpenAI has long warned that the technology could be used for mass information campaigns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After Joshua Barbeau’s fiancé passed away, he spoke to her for months. Or, rather, he spoke to a chatbot programmed to sound exactly like her.

In a story for the San Francisco Chronicle, Barbeau detailed how Project December, a software that uses artificial intelligence technology to create hyper-realistic chatbots, recreated the experience of speaking with his late fiancé. All he had to do was plug in old messages and give some background information, and suddenly the model could emulate his partner with stunning accuracy.

It may sound like a miracle (or a Black Mirror episode), but the AI creators warn that the same technology could be used to fuel mass misinformation campaigns.

Project December is powered by GPT-3, an AI model designed by the Elon Musk-backed research group OpenAI. By consuming massive datasets of human-created text (Reddit threads were particularly helpful), GPT-3 can imitate human writing, producing everything from academic papers to letters from former lovers.

It’s some of the most sophisticated – and dangerous – language-based AI programming to date.

When OpenAI released GPT-2, the predecessor to GPT-3, the group wrote that it can potentially be used in “malicious ways.” The organization anticipated bad actors using the technology could automate “abusive or faked content on social media,” “generate misleading news articles,” or “impersonate others online.”

GPT-2 could be used to “unlock new as-yet-unanticipated capabilities for these actors,” the group wrote.

OpenAI staggered the release of GPT-2, and still restricts access to the superior GPT-3, in order to “give people time” to learn the “societal implications” of such technology.

Misinformation is already rampant on social media, even with GPT-3 not widely available. A new study found that YouTube’s algorithm still pushes misinformation, and the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate recently identified 12 people responsible for sharing 65 percent of COVID-19 conspiracy theories on social media. Dubbed the “Disinformation Dozen,” they have millions of followers.

As AI continues to develop, Oren Etzioni, CEO of the non-profit, bioscience research group, Allen Institute, previously told Insider it will only become harder to tell what’s real.

“The question ‘Is this text or image or video or email authentic?’ is going to become increasingly difficult to answer just based on the content alone,” he said.

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Weekend Favs January 9

Weekend Favs January 9 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • SavvyCal– Most scheduling tools put the burden on the recipient. SavvyCal makes it easy for both parties to find the best time to meet—in an instant.
  • OpenAI – Creates images from text captions for a wide range of concepts expressible in natural language.
  • Swipe Files – Swipe Files is a curated library of marketing and copywriting examples with detailed breakdowns of what makes them great. Landing pages, ads, emails, and more.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Nearly a dozen major tech firms can trace their roots to PayPal. From Palantir to Tesla, here are the companies launched by members of the ‘PayPal Mafia.’

Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel, left, and Elon Musk.

  • Early employees of payments company PayPal went on to create nearly a dozen major tech startups after leaving the company.
  • The PayPal Mafia, as its early employees came to be known, were directly responsible for Tesla, SpaceX, LinkedIn, Yelp, and more. 
  • The latest company with PayPal roots to make a major splash is Palantir, the big data company that went public on the New York Stock Exchange in October. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Without PayPal, there may not have been Palantir. Or YouTube. Or SpaceX, LinkedIn, and Yelp. 

The payments company – launched as Confinity in 1998 by Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Luke Nosek – grew to become a Silicon Valley giant. It was acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion in a deal that altered Silicon Valley history and helped spawn the careers of some of tech’s most famous names.

The PayPal Mafia, as its early employees came to be known, have gone on to become venture capitalists, tech founders, and even a US ambassador

Here are the tech companies that may not have gotten their start without the success of PayPal. 

Secretive data company Palantir was founded in part by Peter Thiel, PayPal’s cofounder.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Peter Thiel, Partner, Founders Fund, speaks at the New York Times DealBook conference on November 1, 2018 in New York City.
Peter Thiel.

When it was founded: 2003

What it does: Palantir creates software that manages and analyzes data. Its software helps other companies and agencies like law enforcement find patterns in large swaths of data.

How it’s related to PayPal: Thiel founded Palantir after PayPal’s sale to eBay, and the idea for the company was born out of Thiel’s experience dealing with credit card fraud at PayPal. 

Joe Lonsdale, who worked as a finance intern at PayPal while still in college at Stanford University, is also a Palantir cofounder. 

Affirm was launched by Max Levchin, a PayPal cofounder.

Max Levchin

When it was founded: 2013

What it does: Affirm offers instant lines of credit to customers shopping online, allowing them to buy a product and pay for it over time. The company raised a $500 million Series G round last month.

How it’s related to PayPal: Affirm is the brainchild of Max Levchin, one of the original PayPal founders. The company launched out of Levchin’s startup incubator, HVF — Levchin took over as CEO in 2014.

Levchin founded the company along with a team that includes Nathan Gettings, who also cofounded Palantir. 

Fertility tracking company Glow was also born out of Levchin’s startup incubator.

Max Levchin

When it was founded: 2013

What it does: Glow makes a family of apps that use data science to help track periods, ovulation, fertility, pregnancy, and children’s’ growth. 

How it’s related to PayPal: Glow was also founded in Levchin’s HVF startup incubator, and Levchin now serves as executive chairman. 

YouTube’s founders worked together at PayPal during the early days.

YouTube founders
YouTube founders Steve Chen, left, and Chad Hurley.

When it was founded: 2005

What it does: YouTube is a platform for hosting and sharing videos. It was sold to Google in November 2006.

How it’s related to PayPal: Founders Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim were all early employees at PayPal.

When PayPal sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, it sparked a “healthy competition” among the company’s alumni, early YouTube investor Roelof Botha told Business Insider earlier this year. When it came time for YouTube to sell, the team intentionally chose a price of $1.65 billion — 10% more than what eBay sold for. 

Elon Musk founded SpaceX after working at PayPal.

Elon Musk SpaceX Space X
Elon Musk.

When it was founded: 2002

What it does: The goal of SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies, is to make space flight cheaper and eventually colonize Mars. 

How it’s related to PayPal: In 1999, Musk launched an online banking company called X.com. That company merged with Thiel’s Confinity in 2000, then became PayPal in 2001. Musk was briefly PayPal CEO before being replaced by Thiel. But when PayPal sold, Musk netted $165 million from the deal, which he used to start SpaceX. 

Musk was an early investor in and cofounder of Tesla.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk introduces the falcon wing door on the Model X electric sports utility vehicles during a presentation in Fremont..JPG
Elon Musk.

When it was founded: 2003

What it does: Tesla manufactures electric vehicles, batteries, and solar panels. 

How it’s related to PayPal: Musk was an early Tesla investor and cofounder. He became CEO in 2008

Musk launched The Boring Company after becoming irritated by Los Angeles traffic.

Boring Company Hawthorne tunnel
The Boring Company’s Hawthorne Tunnel.

When it was founded: 2016

What it does: The Boring Company builds underground tunnels with the intention of housing high-speed transit systems to reduce traffic in cities. 

How it’s related to PayPal: Musk initially proposed The Boring Company in a white paper in 2013 and launched the company three years later. 

Musk also created OpenAI and Neuralink.

Elon Musk

When they were founded: 2015 and 2016, respectively

What it does: OpenAI is an artificial intelligence research lab, while Neuralink’s goal is to make computers that can be implanted in people’s brains.

How it’s related to PayPal: Musk founded both companies to fight against what he sees as the dangers of AI.

LinkedIn was founded by early PayPal exec Reid Hoffman.

reid hoffman
Reid Hoffman.

When it was founded: 2002

What it does: LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. 

How it’s related to PayPal: Hoffman was an executive vice president at PayPal in its early days. He founded LinkedIn and initially served as its CEO before later becoming executive chairman. 

Yelp was founded by two early PayPal employees, Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons.

Jeremy Stoppelman
Jeremy Stoppelman.

When it was founded: 2004

What it does: Yelp is a platform for hosting reviews and recommendations about local businesses. 

How it’s related to PayPal: Stoppelman and Simmons met while working at PayPal in the early 2000s — Stoppelman came from X.com and served as vice president of technology while Simmons worked as an engineer. Levchin provided the initial investment in the company. 

Read the original article on Business Insider