It seems like the news is dominated by just two letters: A and I. In my inbox this week, I noted the following stories:
-- Wendy’s is experimenting with an AI-driven chatbot to take your drive-through orders. It will use Google’s AI. It will be in one store initially, but I predict this will be everywhere and with all fast-food chains relatively soon.
-- Spotify took down tens of thousands of songs created by AI startup Boomy, per the Financial Times. Spotify was alerted to the songs by Universal Music, which had spotted suspicious streaming activity. Spotify withdrew the songs because of suspected use of bots to inflate streams and thus income. So, AI created both the songs and the inflated streaming numbers.
- At Google’s I/O23 (so sorry, but that is really the name) this week, many AI initiatives were launched, including an option in which AI can write emails within Gmail, a Google Maps feature where AI will create an “Immersive View” for your route, and a Google Photo AI that will edit your photos -- and search will of course be AI-powered.
There were many more stories across the news, but you get it. AI is having a moment, and the speed at which it is growing is scary.
It’s so scary, in fact, that thousands of tech and industry leaders, politicians and academics have sounded and are continuing to sound the alarm bells about the rampant, unregulated arms race between the various platforms.
And so scary that on May 11 the EU’s commission overseeing AI passed a first vote -- 84 in favor, to 7 against -- to regulate AI governance, how/when/where it is allowed to be deployed, and in general, how to protect European citizens from all the potential negative outcomes of an unregulated AI world.
As ChatGPT’s platform is open-source, we can safely assume that “the bad guys” are also in full development mode. AI-created songs and AI-inflated plays on Spotify are only a very small indication of what’s coming. If you thought views, likes, comment sections, search results, reach, frequency, and any other kind of marketing and advertising data is safe from AI-driven manipulation, think again.
Meanwhile, on May 4 (an appropriate date to discuss this topic if there ever was one) the White House convened tech leaders and its own legal and policy staff for a discussion on AI. In attendance were Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI; Dario Amodei, CEO of Anthropic; Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft; and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. Afterwards, group issued a statement that read in part: “Administration officials and CEOs agreed that more work is needed to develop and ensure appropriate safeguards and protections, and CEOs committed to continue engaging with the Administration to ensure the American people are able to benefit from AI innovation.”
It's clear that regulation will happen in the EU before it happens here in the U.S. (and that is a big “if,” as the previous statement only talks about “more work” to be done, and for the companies “to continue engaging with the administration”). The administration seems slightly distracted by another imminent doomsday in the form of whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. Just like with the GDPR protections that were passed in Europe, and that drove change globally (at least in the “Western” world), it looks like consumers, and perhaps mankind, is again dependent on how the EU will regulate.