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What's So Bad About The Imperial System Anyway?

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ChatGPT 4.0 Update: Latest Upate And The Case For Coexisting With AI

Following its public release on November 30, 2022, we were under the impression that Chatgpt had seen its 15 minutes of fame. However, ChatGPT seems to be back in the limelight with one of its biggest updates yet; officially announced on September 25, the new and improved version plans to roll out a number of exciting voice and image analysis capabilities over the following two weeks. Also this week, OpenAI announced ChatGPT users can soon be able to surf the web, expanding the tool's data access beyond its earlier September 2021 cutoff.

While we haven't been able to get hands-on with these features quite yet, we had a chance to talk with AI experts to learn more about how these systems function and how they can improve human interaction with mobile devices. Critically, the effort to roll out these AI systems is equally bookended by efforts to enact legislation to keep it under control—i.E. Reap the benefits without doing a clean sweep of the job market.

Before we dive deeper into these features, it's important to note that the latest update will only be available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers via the mobile app. The subscription costs $20 a month, giving you priority access during peak hours, faster response times, and first dibs on new features and improvements.

More From Popular Mechanics   Voice Recognition and Generation

NurPhoto//Getty Images

You probably wouldn't fault me for nearly spitting out my SpaghettiOs after reading the latest update is "capable of generating human-like audio from just text and a few seconds of sample speech." However, I'm pleased to report that OpenAI is deploying countermeasures to stop hackers from having you dox yourself using your own voice; at the time of release, OpenAI used the Technology to build a voice chat capability with five to choose from.

OpenAI also mentioned interest in collaborating with other apps, giving them access to the language model. Spotify already has a plan rolling to use a ChatGPT-powered Voice Translation for podcasts, which would be able to translate them into just about any language. This could be a game changer for the industry with an opportunity to expand the reach of literally all of the podcasters on Spotify.

"If you look at the European Parliament, they already have to produce all of their proceedings in eleven different languages," says Matt Lease, a professor at the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. With the sheer amount of data that most of these language models are working with, Lease says they're getting "remarkably good" at this point.

While AI excels at these definite if-this-then that types of problems, it still struggles with hallucinations when trying to put together a coherent sentence on its own. According to Lease, hallucinations in this case refer to AI confidently presenting incorrect information as a fact.

Image Analysis

One of the biggest barriers to entry with AI is users' ability to provide context for ChatGPT to process. Most queries about putting together a cocktail for your upcoming dinner party will be fine, but developers are looking to push the limits with more advanced queries. Imagine a scenario where you could take a picture of one of your house plants (that you've most likely left for dead) and ChatGPT would be able to analyze your situation and put together a game plan for nursing them back to health.

OpenAI already has a substantial amount of experience with this technology in collaborating with Be My Eyes, a free app that helps blind and low-vision people by narrating what they're looking at. This could involve everything from reading menus to determining between shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles in a hotel room. OpenAI has significantly limited ChatGPT's ability to recognize people and make statements about them as they recognize that "ChatGPT is not always accurate and these systems should respect individuals' privacy."

Next Steps

Along with being a professor at the U.T. Austin School of Information, Lease is a founding member of the University of Texas's Good Systems initiative. Their mission statement revolves around designing AI technologies that benefit society. The technology can already do many things faster (with an improved level of precision) than humans—which is great news. But Good Systems aims to address the societal and ethical implications that many fail to bring up.

It's important that technologists aren't going to decide what's good or bad -Lease

Lease and Good Systems say we need to bring diverse stakeholders to the table as we further roll out these AI systems; the program has a large scope, with 31 departments and 120 researchers deployed throughout the University to build a future where we're able to coexist with AI. With people like Lease fighting the good AI fight, we hope this article can ease concerns as the technology becomes more prevalent in our lives.

Matt Crisara is a native Austinite who has an unbridled passion for cars and motorsports, both foreign and domestic, and as the Autos Editor for Popular Mechanics, he writes the majority of automotive coverage across digital and print. He was previously a contributing writer for Motor1 following internships at Circuit Of The Americas F1 Track and Speed City, an Austin radio broadcaster focused on the world of motor racing. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona School of Journalism, where he raced mountain bikes with the University Club Team. When he isn't working, he enjoys sim-racing, FPV drones, and the great outdoors. 

Technology And The IRS Revolution

"Hey ChatGPT, is the IRS ready to modernize?" 

When asking that question, ChatGPT said: "Modernizing the IRS has been a topic of discussion for several years, and various initiatives were underway to improve technology infrastructure, enhance taxpayer services and increase efficiency." 

That's true. In 2019, the IRS published its modernization plan that focused on four main pillars — the taxpayer experience, core taxpayer services and enforcement, modernized IRS operations, and cybersecurity and data protection. While about a quarter of the initially proposed budget was rescinded, the IRS still has tens of billions of dollars to put these modernization plans into practice. The service has stated it plans to use "innovative technologies and processes" in the coming years to further modernize operations. 

The ChatGPT response wrapped up with a shoutout "to consult with tax professionals or government sources for the most current information." Well, that's what I did during a recent conversation with Chuck Rettig, former IRS commissioner and board member for K1x. And it seems as if the IRS is attuned to the problems and is searching for solutions. 

"You have technology that can streamline a process," Rettig said, "which, when you have a shortage of accountants, is huge."

What it will take to modernize

For the IRS to modernize and meet evolving taxpayer expectations, a few things need to happen. First, there needs to be skilled internal staff ready to advance the organization. Second, the budget needs to continue to support the proposed efforts. Third, the IRS needs to want to modernize and have the technology available to do so.

When there is limited staff available to process tax returns, anything that can streamline the process will help considerably. There is modernized e-filing available for organizations with smaller partnerships, but what if we took this a step further and fully automated the filing process?

"The IRS had the same issues with respect to processing information [stuck in forms]. When you streamline that and digitize it, you significantly reduce the error rate. That allows electronically filed documents to process through the system at lightspeed." Rettig said. "That helps the resources in the tax community and it helps the resources in the IRS. It reduces errors and people get their refunds faster." 

That's an all-win situation! Getting there will take serious effort, though. 

Preparing for new tech

If old and new technology come together, it can make a difference for the tax professional and the IRS. Retting believes it will happen. The IRS created a digitization office in 2021 loosely referred to as Team DG. This requires a tremendous amount of contractor effort outside of the IRS. During his tenure at the IRS, Retting reached out to fintech for help in modernization, and he uses e-file as an example of change that would not have happened without private sector help.

"Technology people like a challenge and the IRS provides that challenge," Rettig said. 

Former IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

As for the timeline for any change, "We have to watch the way the wind blows," he explained, but he estimates it won't happen before fiscal year 2024 or 2025. When it does, Rettig believes it's going to make a difference for real people. He's confident the IRS is headed in the right direction.  

There are over 1.2 septillion possible ways to file a 1040 alone. Full digitization to speed up the filing and return process would have a huge impact on the industry! Just imagine all the things you could do when you are not buried in the details.

Having the right people and resources

It's hard for you to do what you need to be doing when you are so focused on the details. Luckily, there are a large number of cool new tech solutions that can help with the grunt work, freeing up time for you to do higher-level work. Because of that, tax professionals realize they are now at the bridge of technology and want the IRS to change with the profession — to make their lives so much easier. Retting believes this is coming. 

"I think the acceleration over the next 10 years is going to far exceed us going from no computers, almost no internet access, etc.," he said. "I think that we're about ready for an explosion in the tax world. An explosion that will help people and get more people into the field."

But what about the concerns with technology, especially AI, replacing skilled workers? The good news is that, according to Rettig, the plan is not to replace workers with automated solutions. He shared a story about when Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin talked to IRS employees about modernization and how an employee said he took modernization to mean replacing them. 

"Mnuchin looks up and says, 'Do you think in your lifetime or mine, we're ever going to have too many employees at the IRS? It's not going to happen,'" Rettig said. Mnuchin then transitioned into talking about there being a focus on upskilling and career advancement for current employees in the coming years.

"I think that both public and private should look at technology like that," he said. 

While the IRS may not be the most glamorous place to work, it could be the perfect fit for tax professionals looking to grow their careers. Rettig emphasizes that technology is ultimately driven by people. Even with technology powering your work, you still need human oversight to ensure accuracy and relevance. And you need humans to continue advancing your work. By leveraging AI to its fullest potential, you can even use technology to improve human experiences.

Of course, no one can see the future, so you'll have to stay tuned to see what happens at the IRS in the coming years. But for now, focus on the positive potential of technology in tax and the important role of human expertise in driving it forward!

Local Technology Leaders Share Their Top Priorities

In June, the Public Technology Institute published its 10th annual State of City and County IT National Survey. In it, 61 local government IT executives ranked their top management and operational priorities, and to no one's surprise, cybersecurity remained at the top of the list. 

The survey found that "following cybersecurity on the list of IT executive priorities are modernizing outdated IT systems and applications, and innovation/applying technology in new ways to help solve problems. Fourth on the list is IT workforce retention/attraction. Questions about IT workforce issues were added to or amended on this year's survey."

So, how is the IT landscape changing? And what should local IT leaders consider as they determine their top priorities? Here are three priorities identified by PTI that warrant special consideration for local technology leaders. 

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Take a Proactive Approach to Strong Cybersecurity

Strong cybersecurity is a necessity — not an option — for state and local governments, especially now as threats continue to evolve at an increasing rate. The survey results reflect this, as 52 percent of executives deemed modernizing defenses their most crucial cybersecurity priority.

Agencies must remain diligent, informed and proactive, following best practices and standards from trusted governing bodies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology. After all, agencies will lose their citizens' trust if they don't have a cybersecurity posture that ensures the uninterrupted delivery of essential services and the protection of sensitive information.

To start, every organization needs to identify and address security vulnerabilities, which can be done with vulnerability scanning software, penetration testing and regular auditing. User training is also a major component of solid cybersecurity, as users are the most vulnerable part of any enterprise. The survey touched on the people aspect of cybersecurity, with most respondents identifying security awareness training as a top priority.

Strong end-to-end data encryption protocols are also critical; transmission and at-rest encryption are highly recommended.

The goal isn't just to defend against cyberthreats but also to recover quickly if attackers breach defenses. Many organizations lack an incident response plan, which is an imperative best practice. Agencies must create and test their plans, outlining the recovery steps to take in case of a breach.

Overall, good cybersecurity is about continuous improvement. Once agencies have taken these steps, they need to continue to assess and improve their posture to defend against the latest threats.

READ MORE: PTI's annual tech leaders survey shows the need for skills training.

How to Find the Right Managed Services Provider

Managed services, in general, offer state and local governments robust solutions to address the challenges of IT infrastructure modernization. By partnering with experienced managed service providers, agencies can overcome the need for more funding compared with the private sector.

According to the survey, only 36 percent of local governments currently use MSPs, while another 20 percent are considering using them. Before jumping in, agencies need to focus on the vendor they will work with, review their service-level agreements, and ensure that the statement of work they sign is very specific and focused on the expected outcomes.

Agencies should also ensure their MSP has 24/7 availability, especially if it will be working in their security operations center. If the MSP is going to help with disaster recovery and business continuity, ensure the MSP has the knowledge and certifications to support the product they are offering.

The Potential of Emerging and Future Technologies

Emerging and future technologies hold the potential to transform state and local governments. This is about using historical data and applying it to current and future initiatives and approaches to new problems; for example, pulling up historical tickets for a water utility company, overlaying that information with the grid of pipes for residential addresses, and using the combination to pinpoint potential problems in the terrain based on historic ticket volume.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are poised to revolutionize government operations by automating routine tasks and analyzing vast data sets to identify insights. It's no surprise that most agencies have these technologies on their radar. In the survey, 78 percent of respondents reported that they were planning for automation or in the process of adopting it; meanwhile, AI was identified by 65 percent of respondents as an emerging technology that's on their radar or in some phase of adoption.

Another new technology that's taking the stage: the emerging rollout of 5G, which will enable citizens to connect more reliably. 5G is also part of the backbone of smart city initiatives that will open the door for better real-time data analysis and improved emergency response systems.

his article is part of StateTech's CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.

This post first appeared on Autonomous AI, please read the originial post: here

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What's So Bad About The Imperial System Anyway?


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