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The SEC Newgate AI Weekly

AI Concept
By Jed Backhouse
04 April 2024
Digital and Insight
artificial intelligence
generative artificial intelligence
Putting a price on premium search 

An article in the FT this week reported that Google is considering charging for new “premium” features powered by generative artificial intelligence (GAI). Various other news channels followed, reporting on what would be the biggest ever shake-up of its search business. 

According to the article, which relies on three people with knowledge of Google’s plans, the traditional search engine would remain free of charge — but would continue to appear with ads alongside searched-for content, which subscribers would also see. 

While charging users isn’t something new for Google — it already charges for some features, such as extra storage space and its "AI Premium" service, which provides access to its new Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and Docs — this would mark the first time that any of the company's core products were put behind a paywall. 

A new transatlantic deal for AI safety 

The UK and US signed a partnership deal on Monday to work together on research and development of AI safety. In a first–of–its–kind agreement, the new deal builds upon commitments made at the AI Safety Summit held in Bletchley Park in November of last year. 

Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, said it is "the defining technology challenge of our generation".

"We have always been clear that ensuring the safe development of AI is a shared global issue," she said. "Only by working together can we address the technology's risks head on and harness its enormous potential to help us all live easier and healthier lives." 

Digital clones reviving the dead 

As millions of people in China visit the graves of their ancestors in this week’s tomb-sweeping festival, a traditional day to honour and maintain the graves of the dead, The Guardian reported on an emerging trend of using AI to remember and ‘revive’ loved ones. According to the report, Chinese netizens can create a moving digital avatar of their loved one for as little as 20 yuan (£2.20). 

It's not the first time we’ve seen this happen in China. SenseTime, one of the country’s leading AI companies, demonstrated its skills with a speech at the company’s annual general meeting from a digital clone of the firm’s founder, Tang Xiao’ou, who had just passed away at the age of 55. 

Some have highlighted the potential negative effects and ethical considerations of using AI to create digital clones of the deceased. But as AI continues to show up in every corner of every industry, the “Murphy’s law of AI” idea remains — if it can happen using AI, it probably will. 

In other news… 

Billie Eilish and a cohort of other artists — around 200 in all, under the advocacy group labelled the Artist Rights Alliance — have published an open letter calling on AI developers and tech firms to “cease the use of AI to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists.” 

Product launch of the week goes to Open Interpreter’s new ’01 Light’, which has seen plenty of coverage across TikTok. It’s a new portable voice interface that controls your computer, sees your screen, uses your apps and learns new skills. Think Alexa and Siri, but at the keyboard of your computer. 

Finally, new AI acronym of the week goes to Sarah — the World Health Organisation’s new digital health promoter. S.A.R.A.H. is a Smart AI Resource Assistant for Health, which “gives us a glimpse of how artificial intelligence could be used in future to improve access to health information in a more interactive way” according to the Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.