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On the afternoon of Feb. 9, 1964, a group of young men from Liverpool, England, ducked out of the chill wind and freezing temperatures of Manhattan’s theater district into the gothic vestibule of CBS Television’s Studio 50. That night, the Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, debuting in front of an American audience of 73 million. This moment has come to be regarded as a watershed event, marking a decisive shift in the course of cultural history.
On Nov. 30, 2022, an American artificial intelligence research laboratory called OpenAI announced the release of a large language model-based chatbot called ChatGPT. The new ChatGPT, available only as an early release, was a sibling to its earlier model InstructGPT. It allowed users to interact conversationally by giving prompts and asking follow-up questions. The release of ChatGPT introduced a wider audience to a new type of technology known as generative artificial intelligence.
Events can appear singular, but they are not. Both the debut of the Beatles for an American audience and the release of ChatGPT were the products and culminations of a series of preceding events, stories and developments. The Beatles provided a new take on existing American music, reinterpreting and repackaging elements from the blues and other Black musical traditions, via Liverpool and Hamburg. Similarly, OpenAI did not invent the transformer technology on which generative AI is based. ChatGPT wasn’t the first chatbot, but its ease-of-use and user-friendly interface drew widespread attention.
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