August 4, 2023

Artificial Intelligence and the Era of Possibility

By: Megan Creighton

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force, silently revolutionizing our everyday lives across various industries. From personal digital assistants like Siri and Alexa to personalized e-commerce recommendations and advancements in healthcare and transportation, AI enhances experiences, automates tasks, and promises cost reduction in healthcare. However, as AI brings immense benefits, we must address ethical dilemmas and potential risks. In this blog, we explore the pros and cons of AI to gain a comprehensive understanding and make informed decisions for a responsible AI-driven future.

So, were you able to pick up on the fact that all that was written by ChatGPT? Whether we like it or not, AI will increasingly be integrated into our personal and professional lives and therefore it is critical for us to evaluate how we can leverage it for good, and be wary of how it may negatively impact our world. 

 

Our discussion with Amir Haramaty

This summer, the RG team hosted a Lunch & Learn with Amir Haramaty, CEO and Co-Founder of Aiola, an emerging company breaking new ground as the first-of-its kind, speech-driven AI technology that converts manual processes into voice-activated workflows. The discussion opened our eyes to the power of fusing an automatic speech recognition platform with natural language understanding. This level of AI technology is a game-changer for companies looking to generate greater operational efficiencies. 

The Lunch & Learn prompted many continued discussions within our own team and with clients around both the excitement and anticipation we have for AI use cases, versus some of the topics that we are more hesitant or weary about. Here’s a look at what we’ve been talking about…

 

Enter the AI Boom

AI technology has been around for a while — organizations have been developing and applying this technology for years and machine learning is already behind so many of our online experiences. Today’s boom has been accelerated by the advent of ChatGPT, which has made AI accessible and usable by the masses. Before the likes of ChatGPT, only highly skilled, highly educated and highly trained professionals had the capabilities to both comprehend and implement AI technology for narrowly specified use cases. Large language models (LLMs) hit a critical tipping point with the release of GPT3.5 in March 2022 and became easily accessible and usable with the release of the ChatGPT interface in November 2022. Today, generative AI is not only understandable, but usable by the masses, which has opened the eyes of the skeptical to the potential of what this kind of technology can do. 

This is compounded by the timing in which this boom is happening. Particularly in challenging markets, to come out the other side, companies have to consider that “what brought you here, will not bring you there.” The mass rush to lean into this type of technology therefore may be attributed to individuals and companies searching outside the box for that next thing, the golden ticket that will take them to the next level and ultimately combat the pressures of a market downturn.

 

The Bright Spots We See

Most of the advantages of AI technology are centered around speed, efficiency, and rate of innovation. Back in the 1990s (which feels like ages ago), Steve Jobs compared the introduction of computers to the introduction of the bicycle:

“I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we’re tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And, humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn’t look so good. But, then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And, a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts.

And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” ~ Steve Jobs

We foresee similar leaps forward when it comes to the introduction of AI technology into society at large. Tools like ChatGPT, when leveraged in the appropriate context, allow us to automate typically mundane and arduous tasks and empower us to get smart on topics more quickly than ever before. It’s like Google Search on steroids. 

From a business perspective, more and more companies across industries are starting to implement a variety of use cases for AI technology that will help automate and augment processes to free up human capacity for higher-level strategic thinking. Time and time again, we have heard from our Wall Street clients how they are leaning in to apply AI to speed market research and surface opportunities more efficiently. 

Within the marketing industry, AI is increasingly becoming a commonplace tool for developing content and engaging with target audiences with more speed and effectiveness. Hubspot, for example, recently released the public beta for two AI-powered tools: Content Assistant and ChatSpot. Content Assistant allows marketers to conquer writer’s block to craft marketing emails, write social copy, get blog ideas, and more. ChatSpot is a CRM bot that connects to a marketer’s HubSpot to automate tasks with chat-based commands. 

 

The Dark Clouds We Are Looking Out For

With great power comes great responsibility. AI technology is so quickly evolving that laws and regulations are constantly playing a game of catch up, and if not managed with the proper level of responsibility, AI has the potential to be catastrophic.

When placed in the wrong, ill-willed hands, we see how AI can be used unethically and even criminally. Take for example the rise of FraudGPT, a chatbot used by cybercriminals to facilitate scams through effective phishing messaging, provide intel on the best websites for committing credit card fraud and traffic hacked data, such as stolen credit card numbers.

Copyright is a frequent topic when it comes to the controversy around AI because it can be complex to determine rightful ownership as it relates to both the inputs and outputs of generative AI. A recent ruling by the U.S. Copyright Office claims that a person cannot copyright any content in writing, video, images, etc. that is created using AI. The reason? “A creator doesn’t have enough creative control over a generative AI tool to claim its output as their own.” As the law continues to evolve it will be critical to draw a clear line on how much human involvement in the creative process will allow the creator to claim ownership of the output over the AI machine itself. 

Laws, rules, and regulations will slowly but surely develop over the coming years to create some clarity and control around the current AI “wild west”. Meanwhile, there are other concerns to take into consideration. The black box AI technology that is available to the masses creates a breeding ground for the spread of misinformation when outputs are taken as fact despite having little to no transparency into the sources, models, and operations behind it. We have also seen those using AI with negligence: take for example the lawyers in the Avianca lawsuit who were caught having used ChatGPT to write a briefing when they cited seemingly non-existent quotations and decisions from relevant court cases. And we foresee the negative impacts of those using it with ill intent: as we look to the future, there are concerns that AI-generated content could mislead voters in the 2024 U.S. elections through fabricated video footage and images that may create false claims about a candidate.

There are many questions we still have about the impact of AI, leaving all our predictions uncertain. If we lean too heavily on AI to do the work for us, how will this impact our problem-solving capabilities? How will we maintain creativity and originality? Will we eventually reach a point where so much publicly available content is AI generated that the models end up feeding themselves? How will we be able to decipher between AI-generated vs. human-generated content? All things to consider before we can wholeheartedly board the AI technology train.

AI has the great potential to expand our thinking, reach new levels of innovation, and work more efficiently than ever before, as long as we have the proper guardrails to protect society from potential harm. Rules and regulations ensure that those using the technology are doing so ethically and transparency provides us the visibility into the sources, models and applied methodologies that empower us to make more informed decisions and judgments on the subsequent outputs. 

While we will continue to monitor the evolutions of the industry, it is nearly impossible to predict where this technology will take us. Will this be the next revolution to make the biggest leaps in society we have ever seen, or will this lead to the ultimate demise of the human race as we know it (a la iRobot)? Only time will tell. 


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