The Route


Keep an Eye on AI


Y NOW YOU KNOW probably have heard of ChatGPT. This new artificial intelligence program mimics conversations and language in a way the general public has never seen. Per its website, its developers trained an initial model using “supervised fine-tuning”; in other words, humans provided conversations in which they acted as both user and AI “assistant.” Model-written suggestions were used to help compose their responses.

After several iterations and refinements, ChatGPT was rolled out in November and has, as they say, gone viral.

Because I’m curious that way, I had to see for myself how this worked. So I logged in at and waited patiently for my turn – it is often at capacity. After a few hours, a slot opened and I fired my first shot: What is the future of printed circuit boards?

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are an integral part of modern electronics, and they are likely to continue to be widely used in the future. However, there are a few trends that may shape the future of PCBs:
  1. Increased miniaturization: As electronic devices continue to become smaller and more compact, there is a trend towards using smaller and more densely packed PCBs. This requires the use of advanced manufacturing techniques and materials, such as microvias and high-density interconnects, to ensure that the PCBs can handle the increased complexity and density of the circuits.
  2. Use of flexible and stretchable materials: There is growing interest in using flexible and stretchable materials for PCBs, particularly for wearable and portable devices. These materials allow for greater design flexibility and can enable the development of new types of devices and applications.
  3. Increased use of advanced manufacturing techniques: PCB manufacturing is becoming increasingly automated and sophisticated, with the use of advanced techniques such as laser drilling, laser etching, and automated optical inspection becoming more common. This trend is likely to continue as manufacturers seek to improve the efficiency and accuracy of PCB production.
  4. Increased use of surface mount technology: Surface mount technology (SMT) is a method of mounting electronic components onto the surface of a PCB, rather than inserting them into through-hole connections. SMT allows for higher component density and improved performance, and it is likely to become more widely used in the future.
Overall, the future of PCBs is likely to involve continued miniaturization, the use of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques, and an increased focus on flexibility and performance.

The entire process took about 45 seconds. Nothing surprising here, I noted. In fact, if anything, ChatGPT seems a little behind the times. I regenerated (their word) the response. This time, it took a bit of a green turn:

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are an integral part of electronic devices and are likely to continue to be widely used in the future. PCBs are used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive tracks, pads, and other features etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate.

One trend in the future of PCBs is the increasing use of flexible and stretchable PCBs. These types of PCBs are made using flexible materials such as polyimide or PET, and can be bent or stretched without breaking or affecting their electrical performance. Flexible and stretchable PCBs are being used in a variety of applications, including wearable electronics, medical devices, and flexible displays.

Another trend is the increasing use of high-density interconnect (HDI) PCBs, which are PCBs with a higher component density and smaller feature sizes than traditional PCBs. HDI PCBs are used in a variety of applications, including smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices, where size and weight are important considerations.

There is also a trend towards the use of environmentally friendly PCBs, which are made using materials and processes that are less harmful to the environment. For example, PCBs can be made using lead-free solders and recycled materials, and can be recycled at the end of their life.

In summary, the future of PCBs is likely to involve the increasing use of flexible and stretchable PCBs, HDI PCBs, and environmentally friendly PCBs. These developments will allow for the creation of smaller, lighter, and more efficient electronic devices.

A beige take, to be sure. No mention of 3-D printing, increased digitalization and robots. Undeterred, I asked a follow-up: Will AI rule the world?

It is not likely that artificial intelligence (AI) will rule the world in the way that is often depicted in science fiction. While AI is a rapidly developing field and has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of society, it is important to recognize that AI systems are ultimately designed and controlled by humans.

AI systems are created to perform tasks and make decisions based on the data and algorithms that are fed into them. While they may be able to perform some tasks more efficiently than humans, they are not capable of independent thought or decision-making in the same way that humans are. Therefore, it is unlikely that AI systems will be able to take control of the world or rule over humans in any meaningful sense.

That being said, AI has the potential to greatly impact and transform many aspects of society and the way we live and work. As such, it is important for individuals, organizations, and governments to carefully consider the potential consequences of using AI and to develop appropriate policies and regulations to ensure that it is used ethically and responsibly.

So there you go. If this is where AI is at, we humans are still safe.

For now.