Alphabet reshuffles to meet ChatGPT threat
Plus: ArtStation cracks down on rebellious creators and lame-duck AI laws in the US on the cards
In brief Sundar Pichai is apparently all in a pickle over OpenAI's ChatGPT engine, and is gearing up Google to meet the perceived threat.
According to an internal memo seen by the New York Times, Pichai has "upended the work of numerous groups inside the company to respond to the threat that ChatGPT," and is plucking staff from other divisions to meet the threat to the OpenAI's plans. It's reportedly considered a "Code Red" for the Chocolate Factory.
At issue is whether Google's core product, search, will be displaced by AI systems that can give more accurate research results, and that's a big if, for the moment at least.
"No company is invincible; all are vulnerable," said Margaret O'Mara, a professor at the University of Washington. "For companies that have become extraordinarily successful doing one market-defining thing, it is hard to have a second act with something entirely different."
The report suggests that Google will make a series of AI announcements on May to meet the growing threats to the search giant's business model. We'll see if these are functional products or just Google playing catch up.
Google has dominated the search market for 20 years, and anything that threatens that highly lucrative business - which makes up around 90 percent of Alphabet's profits - is something Sundar might well have reason to fear.
ArtStation cracks down on anti-AI art protests
The ongoing fight between human artists and ArtStation, the Epic Games-owned site that displays the images and, it's claimed, exploits the data for AI purposes, has stepped up a notch.
Last week many users of the site protested at the use of their uncredited images to train AI generation models for art. The fear is that ArtStation is allowing AI trainers to take legitimate human work and not only create art, but also potentially drive artists out of business. In response artists started posting "AI is theft" banners on their profile pages.
Now ArtStation has reportedly lowered the boom and is banning such subversive creations. "For site usability, we are moderating posts that violate our Terms of Service," it said on Twitter.
"We understand concerns about AI and its impact on the industry. We will share more about improvements to give users more control over what they see and how they use ArtStation in the near future."
In other words, suck it up you creative types. This one is likely to play out for some time.
US senator shuts the door on AI as he walks out
The outgoing Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has introduced the Facial Accountability, Clarity, and Efficiency In Technology Act (FACE IT) to Congress calling for much tighter controls on the US federal government using AI-powered facial recognition technology.
The statute would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to set minimum acceptable accuracy standards for facial recognition technology, allow citizens an opt-out from being identified solely by such systems. It also wants to ensure a human authority must give authority for such systems to be used.
"Facial recognition technology can be used to help protect our communities, but I am concerned about the potential for abuse," Portman, who leaves Congress in January, said.
"I'm proud to introduce the FACE IT Act because, given the civil liberty implications of the federal government's use of facial recognition technology, we must pass legislation to set rules for the use of this technology. We must make sure federal law enforcement and other agencies have the tools to do their jobs well, but it is vital that we set rules for those tools."
He also introduced the Stopping Unlawful Negative Machine Impacts through National Evaluation Act, which would "clarify that existing civil rights laws apply to decisions made by AI systems just as if those decisions were made by humans."
The proposed laws, which seemingly have little chance of making it onto the statute books given the fractious state of Congress, seems mostly about publicity and a possible future lobbying career than an attempt to fix solid policy in place.