This interview was one of the best overviews and deep dives on the current state of AI / machine learning I’ve heard yet. Daniel was at Apple in the early work on machine learning in iOS, and Nat Friedman was CEO of GitHub during their development of the excellent Copilot product.
Nat on the previously-predicted tendency toward centralization in AI:
The centralization/decentralization thing is fascinating because I also bought the narrative that AI was going to be this rare case where this technology breakthrough was not going to diffuse through the industry and would be locked up within a few organizations. There were a few reasons why we thought this. One was this idea that maybe the know-how would be very rare, there’d be some technical secrets that wouldn’t escape. What we found instead is that every major breakthrough is incredibly simple and it’s like you could summarize on the back of an index card or ten lines of code, something like that. The ML community is really interconnected, so the secrets don’t seem to stay secret for very long, so that one’s out, at least for most organizations.
Daniel on the importance of the right interface for widening AI applications:
We’re in this new era where new user interfaces are possible and it’s somewhere in between the spectrum of a GUI and a voice or text user interface. I don’t think it’ll be text just because in the domain of images, sure, all mistakes are actually features, great, but the issue that you have is in real domains, like you mentioned legal, tax, where productive work is made, mistakes are bad. The issue with text is of one observation we always had from Apple is unlike a GUI, the customer does not understand the boundaries of the system. So unless, to Nat’s point, if you have AGI and it’s smarter than a human, great. Up until that point, you need something that has this feature that the GUI has, which is amazing. The GUI only shows you buttons you can press on, it doesn’t have buttons that don’t work, usually.