Buzzy AI tools like Microsoft-backed ChatGPT have replaced crypto as Davos’ hot tech topic


OpenAI logo on screen with the ChatGPT website on mobile, seen in this illustration in Brussels, Belgium, on December 12, 2022.

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Visitors to the annual World Economic Forum couldn’t get enough of a new development in artificial intelligence: generative AI.

Priya Lakhani, CEO of online learning platform Century, said educators flocked to social media soon after ChatGPT came out to talk about AI and how it could impact the education sector.

“It’s actually amazing. What I’ve seen in social media conversations is that there are educators who see it as a facilitator, and that’s fascinating,” Lakhani said during a WEF panel exploring the potential and pitfalls of generative AI. were discussed.

“They’re over the post-pandemic digital fatigue, they’re interested in the technology, they’re using learning management systems, virtual learning environments, and they’re thinking, okay, how can we use this and how can we use it as an enabler for different contacts. “

Most machine learning tools rely on existing information and identify patterns in the data to discover trends or achieve a desired outcome. Recommendation algorithms on social apps like Facebook and TikTok show users ads based on their browsing habits.

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E stand out from the crowd with their ability to take data input and create new content. People have used technology to generate everything from college essays to works of art.

Using services like Lensa AI to turn selfies into a variety of sci-fi and anime-inspired avatars has also proven popular.

Generative AI has major implications for how children learn, Lakhani said, and adding the technology has also increased the risk of cheating and plagiarism.

“Then you get the skeptics who are terrified, right?” she said. “They’re terrified because they think, wait a minute, kids are going to cheat on their homework. That has real world implications.”

AI the new crypto?

This week at the WEF forum in Davos, Switzerland, Generative AI virtually replacing crypto and so-called “Web3” as the hyped technology of choice for top executives and policymakers.

Crypto firms took over in Davos last year, but have had less of a presence at the conference with flashy storefronts since the 2022 market crash — with the exception of a lone flashy orange bitcoin car.

“Generative AI has tremendous potential,” Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories, said at Tuesday’s generative AI panel.

“This isn’t just something that suddenly pops up. We have a long history of deep learning,” Kitano said. “This is like a continuous evolution of the AI ​​capabilities.”

Microsoft is reportedly betting billions on generative AI in hopes it will be transformative for his company — and others, too. Last week, news site Semafor reported that the company planned to invest $10 billion in ChatGPT maker OpenAI in a deal that valued the company at $29 billion.

Microsoft had previously invested $1 billion in Open AI, which was founded in 2015 by tech entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Sam Altman.

Not everyone is convinced of the billions suddenly sloshing around in generative AI.

Jim Breyer, founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, said Microsoft’s investment in Open AI was strategically good for the company, but he believes the Redmond-based tech giant is paying too much.

“It’s a sign to me of the foam. It’s a strategic deal for Microsoft, and they’ll catch up with Google and others soon,” Breyer told CNBC’s Sara Eisen on Thursday.

“However, I cannot justify the valuation as a private investor.”

Microsoft’s billion-dollar bet

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ChatGPT’s limitations include factual errors. Sony’s Kitano also said it was important to acknowledge those limitations.

“At the same time, we see a lot of limitations. When you ask ChatGPT a specific question, sometimes the answers are impressive. But when you go into the details, all the factual things may not be so accurate,” he said.

“If you go back and open the PC and ask about yourself, you’re like, ‘Oops, I don’t get this,’ all sorts of things are happening there.”

Tackling the dark side of AI

Without directly confirming the investment Tuesday, Microsoft head Brad Smith said generative tools like ChatGPT have already sparked conversations about legal and ethical dilemmas.

“What you really have to start imagining is what are the different ways this technology can be used? How can it be used for good, how can it be used to create challenges?” Smith said Tuesday in a panel moderated by CNBC’s Karen Tso.

One concern is that generative AI could become a desirable weapon for hackers and other bad actors, such as online disinformation agents.

Researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point say ChatGPT is is already being used by hackers to mimic common malware strains.

“We may find it becomes a more relevant topic as people think about the future of information, possible influence operations, people creating disinformation and also fighting it,” Smith said.

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