How Pope Francis' Ominous AI Message At G-7 Affects Advertisers

Pope Francis sent an important message to world leaders during the G-7 summit in Italy on Friday as generative artificial intelligence (GAI) continues to improve ad performance for a variety of media and reporting structures.

He warned against condemning "humanity to a future without hope" by removing the ability for people to make decisions about themselves and their lives.

The most notable warning -- and the one that applies to the advertising industry -- involves "dooming" humanity by making people depend on choices made by machines.

The Pope's message was focused on world peace, the use of weapons, and less lethal tools. GAI will influence consumers more than traditional search and advertising as they read email advertisements, summaries of recommendations on Google Shopping and Amazon Marketplace, and ads targeted to them online. 



“We need to ensure and safeguard a space for proper human control over the choices made by artificial intelligence programs: Human dignity itself depends on it," he reportedly told attendees. 

Dan Salmon, analyst at NewStreet Research, estimates Google AI Overview will generate $1.7 billion in revenue from ads in 2025 -- less than 1% of combined search ad revenue, reaching $16.9 billion B or 7.2% of combined revenue in 2027.

The data published in a research note this morning also suggests AI makes search a dual revenue stream model.

Salmon expects ads in “AI Overviews to improve monetization of search behavior over time by improving relevancy and finding new commercial opportunities. And we think the launch of subscription-based Gemini Advanced/Google One AI Premium has already created a ‘dual revenue’ stream for monetizing consumer commercial search behavior.”

It will become too difficult for companies like Google, Microsoft, Meta, OpenAI and many others to pass up this revenue stream. They will keep forging ahead without looking back, despite all the challenges that lie ahead, including copyright laws and misinformation.

Pope Francis today joined leaders of countries and global organizations that are pushing for stronger AI guardrails as GAI grows in popularity and improves performance across a variety of media for advertising. He cautioned that although everyone should make good use of AI, the onus is on world leaders to create positive conditions.

In the advertising world, those leaders are called CEOs, and they include Apple Tim Cook, Google's Sundar Pichai, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Meta's Mark Zuckerberg, and OpenAI's Sam Altman.

In April 2023, The New York Times ran a story the described how Pope Francis became a victim of AI-generated imagery. 

Dozens of photos appeared, depicting the Pope in some strange scenarios, turning social media upside down. All these images were fake -- created by AI tools created by text prompts. 

CEOs at these major companies need to step up to ensure that their company’s technologies act responsibly. Liz Reid, Google’s vice president of search, told employees at a recent meeting that although the company will not always find everything when it comes to mistakes made by AI, employees should fix mistakes as they find them.

Microsoft has decided to hold off on rolling out Recall, an AI-powered feature that tracks computer use. The feature was expected to become available next week when the company begins shipping its newest laptops and tablets. (Full disclosure, I bought one. I will let you know how it goes.)

The Recall feature tracks web browsing to voice chats, creating a history stored on the computer that users can search on later. There is an opt-out feature, Microsoft said.

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