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AI lectures at Berkeley to explore possibilities, implications of ChatGPT

The series will feature talks by Berkeley alumnus John Schulman, primary architect of the ChatGPT platform, and six other leaders in the field of artificial intelligence

A computer-generated graphic shows the outline of a brain in electric circuitry

AI experts from Berkeley and beyond will explore the ramifications of ChatGPT on science and society in a spring lecture series. (Adobe stock image)

Since its launch last November, the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has been an international sensation, with people using the platform to do everything from writing essays, computer code, poems and research proposals to planning vacations, flirting with Tinder matches and creating malware.

According to UC Berkeley computer scientist Ken Goldberg, the computer program’s facility with natural language — particularly its ability to consistently demonstrate creativity — is forcing many AI experts to rethink what machines may be capable of and even our understanding of intelligence.

“ChatGPT may catalyze a paradigm shift,” said Goldberg, the William S. Floyd Jr. Distinguished Chair in Engineering. “Something changed very dramatically with the performance of ChatGPT, compared with previous large language models, and everyone, including experts, is asking, ‘What does it mean? Where do we go from here?’”

At a series of public lectures at Berkeley this spring, seven of the world’s leading experts on AI will address these questions head-on.

The series will feature Berkeley Ph.D. recipient John Schulman, a co-founder of OpenAI and the primary architect of ChatGPT, who on April 19 will discuss the program’s evolution.

Other speakers in the series will include Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at MIT and a leading expert in robotics, and five leading Berkeley AI faculty members who will discuss recent advances in the fields of computer vision, machine learning and robotics. The lectures will also explore the political, ethical and societal ramifications of new AI technology, as well as how humans might co-exist alongside ever more intelligent machines.

ChatGPT is an acronym for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. The chatbot was developed by OpenAI, a research company that aims to develop and direct AI in ways that benefit humanity as a whole. Launched last November, ChatGPT is a member of OpenAI’s GPT family of language models.

Many of the concepts that underly ChatGPT were pioneered at the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (BAIR) by faculty members who include the Berkeley lecture series speakers, as well as Dan Klein and Pieter Abbeel, who was Schulman’s Ph.D. adviser. Researchers across campus are also using AI and machine learning techniques to tackle a wide variety of global pursuits, from searching for exoplanets to fighting climate change.

“Everyone wants to hear from the experts,” Goldberg said. “There are so many misconceptions out there. In the series, we’ll hear from those who have been working in the field for many years who can provide valuable perspectives on the importance of ChatGPT.”

An illustration of a computer floating in the sky with clouds emerging

This image, titled “Cloud Computing,” was created in Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program that creates images from textual descriptions. The prompt specified that the image include “a supercomputer floating in the sky surrounded by cumulonimbus clouds.” (UC Berkeley image by Neil Freese)

Here’s a list of the upcoming lectures:

Monday, March 20, 4 p.m.
“The Sensorimotor Road to Artificial Intelligence”
Jitendra Malik, Arthur J. Chick Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences at Berkeley
Chevron Auditorium, International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave.
Presented by the Martin Meyerson Faculty Research Lectures

Wednesday, April 5, 12 p.m.
“How Not to Destroy the World with AI”
Stuart Russell, professor of computer science at Berkeley
Presented by the CITRIS Research Exchange and BAIR

Wednesday, April 12, 12 p.m.
“Imitation and Innovation in AI: What Four-Year-Olds Can Do and AI Can’t (Yet)”
Alison Gopnik, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Berkeley
Presented by the CITRIS Research Exchange and BAIR

Wednesday, April 19, 12 p.m.
“How AI Fails Us, and How Economics Can Help”
Michael Jordan, Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Statistics at Berkeley
Presented by the CITRIS Research Exchange and BAIR

Wednesday, April 19, 5 p.m.
“Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback: Progress and Challenges”
John Schulman, Berkeley alumnus and co-founder of OpenAI
A livestream link to the event is available.
Presented by the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and BAIR

Wednesday, April 26, 12 p.m.
“Generative AI Meets Copyright Law”
Pamela Samuelson, the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology
Presented by the CITRIS Research Exchange and BAIR

Friday, April 28, 12 p.m.
“Exploration vs Exploitation: Different Ways of Pushing AI and Robotics Forward”
Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT and co-founder of Robust.AI
Presented by the BAIR Robotics Symposium