Tech desperately wants AI for its ‘next big thing’

AI is a bit of a mess right now:

“The race to lead AI has become a desperate hunt for the digital data needed to advance the technology. To obtain that data, tech companies including OpenAI, Google, and Meta have cut corners, ignored corporate policies and debated bending the law, according to an examination by The New York Times”

Yahoo News

“ChatGPT also regularly ‘hallucinates’ — that is, it makes up incorrect information. Asked to generate scientific abstracts, it invented 30 percent of the references; there was no real improvement between the performance of version 3.5 and version 4”

Financial Times

“AI hiring algorithms are riddled with harmful biases. This is a reflection of the real-life hiring data they were trained on, which is heavily biased… An estimated 70 percent of companies and 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies use AI in their hiring processes. The consequences are huge, particularly for people who most often experience systemic discrimination in hiring”

The Hill

This may just be growing pains. However, the hype surrounding AI and the ferocity with which companies are embracing it – sometimes in the most inappropriate places – suggests that tech is desperate for its ‘next big thing.’

Tech needs something that rivals the significance of the personal computing tools of the 80s and 90s and the mobile computing revolution of the early 2000s. AI fits the bill nicely. It’s sexy. It’s scary. Its potential is seemingly limitless. It has star quality. To regain its luster, tech needs something so big and new that it silences all the sniping at the dumbing down of the word “innovation” to include changing the color of screen icons.

The problem now is that the industry is moving so fast, they may be harming the actual AI opportunities that exist. We know LLMs produce faulty output. But that doesn’t stop other LLMs from ingesting that faulty output and locking it into its algorithmic being. We know that human inputs are invariably biased, yet AI learns from them and bakes-in those biases, which only deepens them.

It’s fascinating to watch the hype cycle, with breathless announcements of tools like the one that allows creations of a full deepfake of a person’s voice with only a few seconds of source recording. The nefarious, dangerous, and illegal uses of this far outnumber the functional ones, but hey, it’s AI, so full steam ahead.

The computing and mobile computing advances created some negatives, but enormous positives. The industry seemed determined to focus on the latter. One can only hope that the tech industry has not become so big, insular, and self-regarding that it refuses to follow that template with respect to AI.

Leonce Gaiter – Vice-President, Content & Strategy