What If AI Is Just Another Big Investor Head Fake?
Years of experience + a major public relations blunder has me asking questions
I was one of the progenitors of viable Generative AI back in the early 2010s. At Automated Insights, we produced machine-written, data-rich articles at the rate of thousands of articles per second for customers like Yahoo Fantasy Football and the Associated Press. We exited to a private equity firm in 2015.
Since those long-ago heady days, I’ve been mildly impressed but mostly meh on this new GPT-driven wave of AI. I get it, and I think there are some great applications out there. Lots of potential. But does it really deserve the fervor, and more importantly, the capital being poured into this somewhat new and novel tech? And why now?
It’s a question that slapped me in the face again recently, when a machine-written mistake slipped through into a national publication. And again, I’m just asking questions here, not pointing fingers.
Oops, We Did a Mad Lib
Not long ago, I did some consulting for a major financial firm as they began to explore using Generative AI to make recommendations to their customers. This was real people and their real money, so we spent a lot of time on personalization and algorithms and coding the machine to think like a writer — remembering what had already been said, building on that, and so on.
Anyway, I was on a call with one of the folks I had worked with at that firm, and he brought to my attention the recent failure of Gannett to hide the source code of their version of Generative AI.
From the article, “The Worthington Christian [[WINNING_TEAM_MASCOT]] defeated the Westerville North [[LOSING_TEAM_MASCOT]] 2–1 in an Ohio boys soccer game on Saturday.”
This is not AI, I thought to myself. This is templates and Mad Libs. This is what our competitors were doing back in 2012.
Then I remembered, our competitors got funded too.
When Did You Decide That NFTs Were Bogus?
Indulge me in another fun story.