Over the years, the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) has undergone dramatic evolution. This continuous progression was showcased at the recent Ai4 Conference, held from August 7th to 9th, 2023, in Las Vegas, NV, where Generative AI took center stage.
A Glimpse Back at Ai4 2022
Last year's Ai4 conference was a celebration of the legacy techniques that laid the foundation for current AI innovations. Sessions and discussions were heavily dominated by established methods like deep learning, which has been at the forefront of image and speech recognition advancements. Reinforcement learning was another key player, with its ability to train agents to make a series of decisions by rewarding them for correct actions. Additionally, niche applications such as federated learning made notable appearances, emphasizing the importance of privacy and decentralized machine learning.
The Emergence of Generative AI in 2023
Fast-forward a year, and the scene had dramatically changed. It did not seem to matter when session you attended at this year's event, Generative AI was the undisputed star of the show. This includes generating images, text, music, video, and more. With its potential to create content at a scale previously deemed impossible, its prominence at the 2023 Ai4 AI Conference was hardly surprising.
What caught many by surprise was not just the presence of Generative AI, but the extent to which it overshadowed legacy methods. This isn’t to suggest that foundational techniques have become obsolete; they remain integral to many AI applications. However, the shift in focus underscores the industry's tendency to be forward-looking, always seeking the next breakthrough.
While the positive applications of Generative AI were highlighted, concerns about the potential negative implications of this technology were also present.
Concerns with Generative AI?
One panel focused exclusively on Intellectual Property concerns, the potential of these models to reproduce, rephrase, or even “create” new content brings up significant concerns about plagiarism and intellectual property rights. How do we as a society attribute originality in a world where machines can generate content on demand?
The two questions that were raised are:
- If art is generated by AI can it be copyrighted, and more importantly should it be copyrighted?
- Are AIs that vacuum up the world's information and art infringing on the copyright material of artists?
The two questions that were asked did not yet have a solid answer, as a society we are still waiting for clarification on the above questions.
Some of the sessions discussed the potential misuses of AI when it comes to adversarial attacks, or generating text, or voices, with the intention of deceiving the general public.
For example Generative AI's capability to produce human-like text and imitate personal styles can be misused for phishing attacks. A sophisticated AI could craft emails or messages tailored to individuals, making scams more convincing than ever.
While deepfakes commonly refer to video or audio, Generative AI can also craft fabricated textual content. Unscrupulous individuals could forge statements, interviews, or writings, wrongly attributing them to real individuals, potentially causing reputational harm. For example, how do banks verify a users voice over the phone if a voice can be cloned and words can be autogenerated on the fly?
A Standout StartUp
While most of the presentations were by legacy companies, there was one standout startup that should be on everyone's radar.
Rain Neuromorphics is working on building artificial brains by training End-to-End Analog Neural Networks with Equilibrium Propagation.
Rain has an ambitious roadmap that will ultimately enable 100 billion-parameter models in a chip the size of a thumbnail.
Rain is a Y Combinator alumni company that includes Sam Altman as an investor. In February, 2022 they announced a successful $25 Series A raise.
Future of AI
Notably absent were much discussions surrounding Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), or other ways to take AI to the next level. It will be interesting to see if this becomes more of a discussion at future Ai4 events once the intense obsession with Generative AI subsides.
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