The connected world is preparing to take a new technological leap with the modality generative of artificial intelligence: one that is capable of generating text, images, video or music. Analysts agree that we are facing a tipping point, the massive adoption of artificial intelligence is imminent. We will use it habitually and it will change our way of creating. Microsoft’s billion-dollar investment in OpenAI—the company that launched ChatGPT—should confirm this bet. The ability to automatically generate content will be present in all its products, from word processing to email. To give a figure, only the Microsoft Teams application has more than 240 million of users. There are many millions of people improving, through its use, the model every day. Growth will be exponential because it also forces the rest of the market to move, offering new solutions on the same concept. A great wave of innovation will accompany this recent release. Just like the internet in its day and especially Google with its search engine, the generative decade promises to take us to places we can’t even imagine, or did we think it could produce music from words?
Generative AI is different from traditional AI in that it is dedicated to creating, rather than recognizing patterns or producing a result. Models can generate new content from scratch. They can include anything from product designs to artwork to music, and have the potential to revolutionize the way services are developed. It is not unreasonable to think that television content on demand in a few years will be created at that time and only for us. It represents a tsunami for the industry and also for society. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI claims that he is controlling the speed to market because of the social impact it has. We are not prepared for everything that is coming, and it is clear that there are opinions for all tastes about this new tool. We are only just beginning to see the contours of its impact on the world, but we already know that it is better than we thought and that it has reached that place long considered untouchable: creativity.
It is the first time that we see a real cross-sectional application. Car companies can use it to create new vehicle designs more quickly. Pharmaceuticals to generate new pharmacological compounds, while the media to create high-quality video content. buzzfeed, an American viral content communication company has announced that it will use it to personalize its content, causing its shares to skyrocket on the stock market. The market knows that there is business here, and a lot. That is why we will hear about it ad infinitum. In 2022, investors pumped nearly $3 billion into generative AI companies through more than 100 deals, almost as much as they invested in the previous five years combined.
Behind the cryptoflopinvestors and the media are crazy about these new machine learning models, in turn causing a new wave of startups who want to take advantage of this technology. At a European level, the United Kingdom is the best positioned country by number of companies, and I do not think it is great news that the Anglo-Saxon axis also dominates this market. It would be very important for cognitive plurality if there were a greater representation of the global south in such relevant and influential technological developments.
A new legal framework
Generative artificial intelligence is going to revolutionize the way companies operate, with the consequent possibility of reducing costs —hopefully not salaries. It’s a perfect occasion to talk about technology that augments humans instead of replacing them, and improves employee productivity; in fact, it could finally get us out of the impasse we seem to be in. Just by looking at its ability to generate code, it is known that it will increase the speed and quality of programmers by autocompleting almost half of their work. Obviously, it is an incipient technology and on which there are still many loose ends to be resolved. There are legal, ethical, reputational risks, false content, limitations in its application, and regulations on copyright that may be worth updating, because it will be difficult to put doors in this field. Getty Images, one of the largest photo agencies, has sued another of these large companies for illegally using their images. At the opposite extreme, Shuttershock has decided incorporate this modality of artificial intelligence and make it available to your customers.
The battles have begun. The legal ones between companies and content creators; the moral debates about whether or not it can be used in the classroom; if it is better to prohibit or teach to use it; whether it is a positive or negative tool. There is no time to lose because the fury of the market is marking the times and pushing development too fast without taking into account the consequences that the massive deployment of this type of technology can cause. The environmental impact needs to be urgently addressed, especially if generative artificial intelligence is to be used hundreds of times a day by billions of people.
If this continues, inaction in terms of governance will have political consequences. Many will look to the rulers for answers and will not find them. Will the regulation be future proof? We have not yet been able to minimally agree on the limits of artificial intelligence and there is already a new generation of this technology permeating our society without any type of control. Looks like we’re going late again.
Lucia Velasco is an economist and author of ‘Is an algorithm going to replace you?’
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