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The SEC Newgate AI Weekly

AI Concept
Technology, Media & Telecomms
Digital and Insight
artificial intelligence

Across continents, the influence of artificial intelligence is palpable. India's ambitious initiatives to establish itself as a leading AI hub, coupled with significant investments from tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon, signify a transformative shift in the global tech landscape. In Europe, Meta navigates privacy concerns by pausing AI plans amidst regulatory scrutiny, while Amazon's AI trials at UK train stations spotlight ethical dilemmas. Elsewhere, Toys R Us pioneers AI-driven creativity with Sora, underscoring AI's dual role as a catalyst for innovation and a subject of scrutiny in modern society.

India, the new AI hub

India is positioning itself as a major hub for artificial intelligence with the government incentivising tech companies to establish electronics manufacturing and data storage facilities within the country. It has already attracted significant investments from tech giants like Microsoft who has committed around $3.7 billion to the southern state of Telangana for constructing data centres which will significantly boost IT capacity and Amazon which plans to invest approximately $12.7 billion in cloud infrastructure by 2030.

However, the surge in data centres, which require vast amounts of electricity and water to operate, threatens to take an environmental toll. The majority of power generation capacity in India, one of the world’s most water-stressed countries, still comes from coal despite investments in renewable energy. To address this, Microsoft is signing agreements to obtain clean power in India. The country's digital economy, fuelled by widespread smartphone adoption and affordable data continues to attract tech investments and drive AI development.

Meta's European AI adventure hits a privacy snag

Meta has been planning to improve its AI capabilities by using public data from Facebook and Instagram users in the EU for its training models. This data could enhance features like personalised content, ad targeting, and AI-driven tools across its platforms. However, privacy concerns from the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) have led Meta to pause these plans. 

Meta claimed that only public content, not private messages or data from users under 18, would be used. Meta believes this will result in a "second-rate experience" for European users and delay AI advancements. Meta is currently working with the DPC to resolve privacy issues and comply with European laws while continuing to develop AI technologies in other regions.

Amazon's playing Big Brother at major railway stations

Recent revelations indicate that Amazon software conducted facial scans on thousands of train passengers in the UK as part of ambitious artificial intelligence trials. These trials, spanning two years across several major stations including London’s Euston and Waterloo, aimed to harness AI for tasks like predicting passenger demographics and enhancing safety measures. By utilising AI-driven object recognition, the trials sought to address issues such as track trespassing, platform overcrowding, and antisocial behaviour detection. While proponents highlight potential safety benefits and operational efficiencies, critics, including civil liberties groups, express concerns over privacy implications and the ethical use of AI in public spaces. The debate underscores the delicate balance between technological innovation and safeguarding individual rights, prompting calls for greater transparency and regulatory oversight in AI deployment.

Toys R Us launches first-of-its-kind AI film using Sora

Lastly, if you haven’t seen it yet, Toys R Us Studios, in collaboration with agency Native Foreign, have pioneered the use of OpenAI’s new text-to-video tool, Sora, to create what they claim is the first brand film of its kind. This innovative approach allowed them to swiftly produce a one-minute video recounting the origins of Toys R Us and its iconic Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot. With Sora, the film was completed in just a few weeks, showcasing how AI tools can significantly streamline creative processes and reduce costs. Premiering at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the initiative highlights a broader trend in the marketing industry towards leveraging generative AI for innovative storytelling and efficient content creation.