Generative-AI Rat Race -- Or The End of The World?

With generative artificial intelligence (AI) like OpenAI’s ChatGPT dominating tech headlines, both Big Tech and well-funded startups are racing to develop and integrate variations into their products.

Generative AI models are a new set of machine learning techniques that enable computers to generate anything from college-level research essays to haikus about cheese for your cheddar-obsessed pals, to images and full-on songs in whatever style you can think of.

In the spotlight so far is Microsoft, which was early to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology as a chatbot in Bing search. The company has since expanded the tech to mobile and Skype, and has even begun to demonstrate the ways Bing chat queries will affect advertising. Also trying to reinvent the search engine via large language models, Google is working on its own chatbot, Bard, and invested $400 million in AI firm Anthropic, a similar move to Microsoft’s billion-dollar investment in OpenAI.

There’s also Big Tech overlord Elon Musk to consider, as he not so long ago co-owned OpenAI. In recent weeks, Musk has reportedly approached AI researchers about forming a new research lab to develop an alternative to ChatGPT.

And now, of course, Meta is stepping in with LLaMa, its own large language model that happens to run on less power and is meant to advance research in the use of generative AI technology.

The latest news is that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is creating a new product group entirely focused on building “creative and expressive” generative AI tools to be used inside Meta’s products.

In a recent Facebook post, Zuck wrote that the dedicated group will pull from several teams across Meta and will be headed by current chief product officer Chris Cox.

“Over the longer term, we'll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways,” Zuck stated. “We're exploring experiences with text (like chat in WhatsApp and Messenger), with images (like creative Instagram filters and ad formats), and with video and multi-modal experiences.”

It’s difficult to say how the development of generative AI at Meta will influence the overall market, especially considering Meta’ widespread focus on its suite of popular social media apps -- Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp -- as well as its continued dedication to the metaverse.

With a specific internal unit, plus continued research into the space via LLaMa, the company may see relatively quick integration of generative AI into its products while bringing a more steadfast, thoughtful approach. In the past, Musk deemed OpenAI’s chatbot “scary good,” and Microsoft has already rolled back the capabilities of the Bing chatbot, which has been widely criticized for dishing out disturbing responses.

We’ll end with Sam Altman, CEO at OpenAI, who recently said that the industry needs time for institutions to determine what to regulate in ChatGPT and large language models.

Similar to other world-changing technologies that have come from Silicon Valley, the race to the top of the AI pot of gold may still result in unseen challenges for humanity as whole.

It's kind of disturbing to hear Altman, the man most responsible for scaling generative AI, sound so unsure of what’s to come: “Although current-generation AI tools aren’t very scary, I think we are potentially not that far away from potentially scary ones.”

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