Allow me for a moment to discuss a new poem that has the potential to be a classic: “An Ode to the Infield Fly Rule.” An esoteric baseball regulation, the infield fly rule is designed to prevent infielders from dropping pop flies intentionally to enable cheap double plays. I suspect that this might be the first poem ever written on this important topic. Here’s an excerpt:
“Oh Infield Fly Rule, thou art a treasure
A beacon of fair play beyond measure
We thank thee for thy guidance and thy grace
In the great game of baseball, thou dost hold a special place.”
Boffo, right? Exactly what the Bard (or at least Ernest Lawrence Thayer) might have written if he’d been inclined to pen poesy about rules to prevent baseball cheats.
But the actual author of this brilliant work was ChatGPT, an ingenious piece of software in a budding category called generative AI, a fancy term for computer-generated art, text, and music. Goofing around with the software last week—it’s free on the web—I simply told it to write an ode to the infield fly rule. Two seconds later, said ode appeared. Can of corn.
ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, a nonprofit research institute developing open-source artificial-intelligence software tools. OpenAI also recently launched Dall-E 2, an online tool that can generate realistic images of more or less whatever you can describe in words. Programs like these are visceral evidence that artificial intelligence is one of the technology sector’s most important trends.
CEO Masayoshi Son has had some trouble with his investments over the past few years, but he nailed this one: When he launched the company’s giant Vision Fund venture-capital portfolio in 2017, he vowed to specifically focus on start-ups levering the power of AI; he thinks it will be the biggest development in human history. Judging by my poem, he might just be right.
Andrew Gershfeld, a partner at the Boston-based venture firm Flint Capital, thinks that generative AI can even disrupt his own business. He contends that the tool could be modified to choose venture investments.
If you trained an AI algorithm with the right data about start-ups, entrepreneurs, and emerging technologies, he says, venture investors could generate fresh ideas, not only on existing investment opportunities, but even about people with specialized knowledge who might have the right ingredients to launch a successful start-up. Gershfeld predicts that AI will lead to development of a “new, fully automated type of VC, leaving traditional human investors and funds with the prospect of becoming a boutique, niche club.”
Yikes! Get ready for the VC bot.
Write to Eric J. Savitz at email@example.com