OpenAI's GPT-3 gets close to offering text summarization on command

June 29th
The meaning of life. (OpenAI)

OpenAI's API, currently in private beta, allows users to prompt its ultra powerful GPT-3 text processor for generated text. In other words, you can feed a sentence to the AI and it will answer you.

From their announcement post:

We hope that the API will greatly lower the barrier to producing beneficial AI-powered products, resulting in tools and services that are hard to imagine today.

Hobbiests have already put GPT-3 to use to generate creative writing, perform math equations, and do other tasks. However, none touched on the question of information accuracy -- AI and synthetic text, for all its impressiveness, worries many people for its perceived disinformation problem. An AI that can write a book in a moment may not get all the facts right (or any at all).

One user seems to have found a use that uses GPT-3's amazing text generating power while keeping its claims honest and useful. Andrew Mayne, as he writes in his blog, has put it to use summarizing concepts to incredible success.

Using OpenAI's API, Mayne prompted GPT-3 with a technical description of quantum computing, which he wanted to summarize for his second grade child:

My second grader asked me what this passage means: """ Quantum computing is the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement to perform computation… (I’ve truncated the rest) """

GPT-3 returned:

"Some people think that if you had one hundred people working on one problem for one hundred years you could not figure out how to solve it with a regular computer but if you had one hundred people working on one problem for one hundred years using a special kind of computer called a Quantum Computer you could figure out how to solve it."

When he asked GPT-3 to summarize it for his eighth grader, it returned a more complicated by still lay description:

“When we say quantum computing, we mean computing based on quantum physics. With classical computing we perform calculations one bit at a time. With quantum computing we try to take advantage of a superposition between 1 and 0. This is what we mean by qubits. This allows us to make connections between pairs of bits (qubits) using quantum logic gates. Quantum computing allows us to perform computations faster than classical computing.”

"The API can not only summarize, it can summarize appropriately for a particular audience," Mayne wrote.

Mayne sees this being put to use in health, education, research, and even wearables that could employ closed captioning to describe topics that come up in conversation.

You could use the API to take difficult concepts and make it easier for people to work their way up from a simple to a more complex understanding of a topic. You can also create this content at the same time by asking the API to provide varying degrees of sophistication in the explanation.