Exclusive: Tech Entrepreneur and Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia on AI and ChatGPT

Ritu Jha-

Indian American Sabeer Bhatia, who co-founded the first free email service, Hotmail.com in 1996 and is a serial entrepreneur, is busy with his new project using AI to condense knowledge about a variety of academic subjects, including entrepreneurship, in short videos’

In an interview with indica, Bhatia says he is using AI but humans have to use their own common sense, which is called general human intelligence. The AI engine has not reached the level of general human intelligence yet.

“I am making educational content out of ChatGPT and using AI software to make it audio-visual into a video. Right now, I am just doing it on my own, but I am trying to get government support to help me disseminate this information. I will begin with college education. Then there is another AI program that does animation. I am using that for the elementary level.”

Bhatia sees a dynamic future powered by AI: “The future where AI will be making these videos as opposed to humans making them and shooting them.” Bhatia says that even in educational videos, AI helped him cut down the cost and time drastically.

When asked about ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, the veteran tech entrepreneur said he doesn’t trust it fully. “This morning, I asked ChatGPT a question. When I asked it the question at 4.30 am it gave me a wrong answer, when I reformed my question at 6.30 am and I put more information in, I got the right answer. The same engine gave me two different answers. This is an example of the engine hallucinating early in the morning. And, then at 6.30 am, it gave me the right answer, it seems to have cleared its head,” he added.

What does the future hold? “This simply means you have to curate its answers. You cannot take its answers literally. You have to use your own common sense, which is called general human intelligence. The AI engine has not reached the level of general human intelligence yet. We have to use general human intelligence to curate the answers and to say, no, this is wrong. It’s the same as somebody trying to fool you when you go and buy something,” Bhatia explained.

Bhatia is however not in favor of any regulations to monitor such AI advances. “I don’t think the government should interfere. I think this is like technology. The government should never interfere in the progress of technology.” When asked about who will take responsibility or copyright for information provided by the AI, Bhatia said: “Those things have to be sorted out. The legal aspects are yet to be worked out. This is a new frontier. In a year’s time, two years’ time, everything could change.”

Is it good for humanity? “If used correctly, it will change humanity. I am looking at it as a way to source information, to teach a billion uninformed people, and to inform them by making small videos, short videos. There are a billion 700 million people under the age of 25 in India who don’t have a formal education. If I can make videos and just change their minds and change their thinking with this, that’s a huge step forward.”

Bhatia said that there is excitement of what’s going on in the technology space, especially in the AI space, the large language models, and how they are changing the world.

On coming back to TiEcon 2023 in-person he said that it’s exciting to be back, and to see and hear other people, see the innovative ideas that they have come up with to make use of this new technology.

A lot has changed [with so many Indian American entrepreneurs] since the days when the veteran tech entrepreneur co-founded Hotmail along with Jack Smith in Mountain View, California.

“It has become much more organized, well attended. At first, 20-30 years ago it was more of an informal network. Everything has become formal, everything is going digital, and there’s a tremendous use of technology, QR codes, and streamlining of events, it’s phenomenal.”

Focusing on the needs of today’s market in comparison to what it was during the Hotmail days, Bhatia added: “Everybody is creating a lot of personal content right now that is being showcased either on Facebook or on LinkedIn or Instagram. A lot of us are using this content and training large language models. So, the large language model AI is actually learning from our experiences and the information that we are providing to the Internet, which is really exciting. These models are benefiting from our work, but are we getting any benefit from it, in terms of monetary rewards? Everything will play itself out in the next few years, but it’s a very exciting time that it’s a new frontier. For me, it seems like the early days of the Internet and I was the lucky few who were able to make something. And now I’m trying my luck again, and it’s exciting.”

Bhatia has ventured into several projects after Hotmail, but says he is he is not an investor. “I’m actually creating, I’m learning. My role is that of an entrepreneur now, not as an investor. I am super excited, this morning I made 13 videos, which condense entrepreneurship into one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half-minute videos. A total of 25 minutes. Whoever watches these can become an entrepreneur or at least learn the basics of entrepreneurship in 25 minutes. I’ve condensed an entire MBA program into 25 minutes and I’ve used AI extensively to do that. That is super exciting for me.”

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