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Birds, Bees & AI – Daily Reckoning Australia

Are we there yet? Do our cars fly? Have we cured cancer and obesity? Are our politicians still scoundrels? Do we still grow old and die? Maybe not, but we still fall head-over-heels from time to time.

‘Another bride, another June
‘Another sunny honeymoon
‘Another season, another reason
‘For makin’ whoopee’

-Ella Fitzgerald

Are we there yet? Do our cars fly? Have we cured cancer and obesity? Are our politicians still scoundrels? Do we still grow old and die?

Maybe not, but we still fall head-over-heels from time to time.

Tech breakthroughs offer solutions…progress. And some of them — such as the internal combustion engine and painless dentistry — have taken much of the discomfort out of life. But most innovations — like genetic mutations — turn out to be dead ends and time wasters.

Often, new tech is just a nuisance. You go to a nice hotel, outfitted with the latest technology — it can take 15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the hot water in the shower or turn off the lights. In our own home in Maryland, we’ve never been able (or willing to take the time) to master the HVAC controls.

The great online flop

The internet proved a huge disappointment. It brought all the information to all the people all the time. At the speed of light, we could take our money out of a failing bank…organise a flash mob…or find out who put the ‘sha’ in ‘sha na na…’

But the ‘information’ often turned out to be faulty, sordid or classified. Edward Snowden, for example, had to go into exile in Russia after delivering thousands of pages of documents to the public — via the Internet — that the feds didn’t want you to see.

There was so much ‘information’ — good, bad, and ugly — we weren’t able to tell what was what.

Disinformation…misinformation…lies…wrong-think — it was impossible to keep up with it.

But now…thank God!…we are saved. A new technology promises to comb, sort, and organise information in ways that will be useful to us. And it is ‘trained’ not to be disrespectful, traitorous, blasphemous, or obscene. And not to give you any ‘bad’ ideas. Want to know how bees find the right flowers…who was Richard Nixon’s running mate…how to tell a poisonous mushroom from an edible one? Just ask and it shall be delivered unto you — in seconds.

Yes, a new kind of intelligence is out and about — Artificial Intelligence. Engadget reports:

Public infatuation with ChatGPT since its release last November has opened the floodgates…Heavyweights including Google, Microsoft, Meta, and Baidu are already jockeying their Large Language Models (LLMs) for market dominance, while everybody else, from Adobe and AT&T to BMW and BYD, scrambles to find uses for the revolutionary technology.  

NVIDIA’s newest cloud services offering, AI Foundations, will allow businesses lacking the time and money to develop their own models from scratch to “to build, refine and operate custom large language models and generative AI models that are trained with their own proprietary data and created for their unique domain-specific tasks.”

Big whoop

Investors have new hope. Another tech breakthrough will open the door to unprecedented profits. Whoopee!

Look at what has happened to NVIDIA. The stock is the priciest thing on the pricey NASDAQ. The median stock on the index sells for 5.4 times sales. NVIDIA is priced at 29 times sales.

Yes, first it was the irrational exuberance caused by the internet at the end of the ’90s. Then there was the crypto madness. And now, another season…another reason…to get giddy. NVIDIA is ‘priced for perfect’ at 182 times earnings. Not since 1999 have investors lost their minds so completely.

But so what? Now, they have AI. They don’t need their minds anymore. Want an opinion? A fact? An answer? Just ask ChatGPT.

But wait, NVIDIA has already paid off, even without AI. Over the last 10 years, the stock has gone up 8,000%. And now, with AI in its boardroom…and available to every employee with a keyboard, what the company might do next staggers the imagination. If the stock could just repeat the performance of the last 10 years (without AI assist!) it would put the value of the company at US$61 trillion — or about half of the anticipated GDP of the entire planet.

That seems unlikely to us.

Recall that nearly identical claims were made for the internet. It was going to ‘change everything’ and boost economic output so much that we were all going to be wealthy. With unlimited access to information, mistakes would be a thing of the past. Capital would no longer be wasted on projects that wouldn’t work. Knowledge — at our fingertips — would make us all smarter, healthier and more productive.

Didn’t happen. Instead, productivity is now negative…real wages are going down…life expectancies are falling…and GDP growth rates so far this century are barely half to a third of those before 1999.

As for NVIDIA, recall too that when the bubble burst in 2000, it took NVIDIA down with it. The stock lost 90% of its value. It took 14 years for it to recover.

What’s ahead? A glorious AI-enhanced future? Or another floppy disappointment?

Tomorrow…we’ll ask the smarty pants at AI.


Dan Denning Signature

Bill Bonner,
For The Daily Reckoning Australia

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