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The SEC Newgate AI Weekly

AI Concept
By Jed Backhouse
07 December 2023
Digital and Insight
artificial intelligence

This one has been a week of big announcements from the major players in big tech and generative AI. It has also been a focus of COP28, albeit with a balance of positive and concern-focused stories. Here’s a short round-up of the news you (mostly) need to know.

Amazon has finally (publicly) joined the party of AI assistants, with its announcement of Amazon Q. Said to be focused on workplaces and not intended for consumers, New York Times writes that “Amazon Q aims to help employees with daily tasks, such as summarizing strategy documents, filling out internal support tickets and answering questions about company policy.” Expect to hear lots more about this new tool over the coming few weeks.

Blackrock made headlines as it plans to launch generative AI tools to clients in January, “as part of a larger drive to use the technology to boost productivity.” They are one of many investment and financial services firms that are developing new AI tools to gather financial and other data for research reports and investment proposals.

Meta announced the launch of its new AI Alliance, alongside IBM and 50+ global organisations, which is looking to be a pioneering industry group “dedicated to open source artificial intelligence work, aiming to share technology and reduce risks,” as reported in Bloomberg.

The UK government announced its new Manchester Prize – a £1 million for pioneering AI innovations and tackling some of society’s biggest challenges.

Elon Musk is back in headlines, this time talking about plans to raise $1 billion in fresh capital for his startup X.AI.

But the most exciting announcement this week, for me, was that of Google’s Gemini. A step beyond the ‘experiment’ that Google Bard was labelled, which has advanced "reasoning capabilities" to "think more carefully" when answering hard questions. CEO Sundar Pichai said it represented a "new era" for AI. Read more about its early development here.

With many businesses looking at COP28 in Dubai this week, talk around AI has been somewhat reserved. Whilst it may be the centre of attention for developing new solutions that can fight emissions, the energy it requires could make matters worse, writes the New York Times.

This is echoed in various COP28-related articles that break down the environmental impact of using generative AI – MIT Technology Review, for example, calculated that “making an image with generative AI uses as much energy as charging your phone.”

Similarly, CBNC writes of the water footprint needed by the next wave of generative AI, with some equally good real-life measurements.

On the image and video AI front, Meta detailed a range of updates to its Meta AI in a blog post. The new tool is called ‘imagine’ and lets users ‘reimagine’ images shared by friends in a Messenger or Instagram chat – simply by pressing and holding the picture, then adding a text prompt.

Finally, for those who enjoy a movie of the holiday period — but want something a little different — The Wizard of AI is a new film, created by director and CGI artist Alan Warburton, about the dangers of AI… made entirely by AI. The Guardian described it as “disturbingly watchable.” Judge for yourself by watching it on Vimeo here.