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This Week in AI: Accelerationism, AGI and the Law

AI, artificial intelligence, generative AI, artificial general intelligence

What could you do by your first birthday?

Chances are — not much, beyond maybe walking and gurgling a word or two.

For generative artificial intelligence (AI), the level of development after just one year is an entirely different story. 

The precocious innovation can already predict the 10-day weather forecast better than current gold-standard meteorological systems across nearly all (90%) of the 1,380 key metrics measured.

And that’s just within one domain. The innovative technology is making accelerated strides across all kinds of ecosystems.

From purpose-built products to service-as-software advances, this is the weekly pulse check on the top AI news and innovations PYMNTS has been tracking.

‘Magic Super Intelligence in the Sky’

Generative AI’s capabilities are advancing to the degree that many industry pioneers are returning to the initial sci-fi dream that spurred their interest in the AI field: developing artificial general intelligence (AGI), or software that matches human intelligence.

OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman shared on Monday (Nov. 13) that he plans to secure additional funding from Microsoft, which has already pledged $10 billion to his firm, to fund AGI development.

“Magic intelligence in the sky. I think that’s what we’re about,” Altman said.

Following the news, PYMNTS reported on how intelligence, even when encoded into a software tool, is a continuum, and how any future AGI systems will exist on that same continuum.

But all the buzz about AI accelerationism has some industry groups worried.

A group of more than 40 venture capital (VC) firms, including General CatalystFelicis VenturesBain CapitalIVPInsight Partners and Lux Capita, on Tuesday (Nov. 14) signed voluntary commitments around how the startups they back should develop AI technology responsibly as the technology and the companies behind it continue to grow.

Menlo Ventures, which is not among the commitment’s signatories, announced on Thursday (Nov. 16) that it had raised $1.35 billion to invest in AI.

The VC-signed voluntary agreement is meant to demonstrate leadership from the private sector around controlling for AI’s risks, but it has sparked a debate among AI founders around the line between responsible development and regulatory capture. 

And it isn’t just the VC community. The National Retail Federation (NRF) also released on Monday its Principles for the Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Retail Sector, providing a framework for retailers to govern and strategically plan their use of AI.  

Tapping AI to Drive Personalization

That’s because retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, are increasingly turning to AI to make the experience better and more streamlined for their customers.

In the midst of the holiday season, despite projections of weak consumer spending forecast amid an inventory glut, Macy’s announced Thursday that they have moved to implement AI to better adjust its inventory based on holiday demand. 

Elsewhere, Google on Thursday added personalized gift recommendations to its generative AI capabilities in Search. 

But it isn’t just retail where AI is having an impact.

Airbnb on Tuesday announced its first acquisition as a public company — an AI startup called The news comes on the heels of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky saying that AI will help turn Airbnb into the “ultimate travel agent” and “unlock opportunities we’ve never seen” during his company’s most recent earnings call. 

And leading music services are increasing their use of AI capabilities to offer more personalized experiences to drive consumer loyalty. For instance, Spotify and Google Cloud announced Thursday the expansion of their partnership, leveraging AI to drive engagement with the leading global music streaming platform.

Beyond the marketplace, OpenAI is reportedly looking into ways to bring its popular generative AI ChatGPT chatbot into classrooms, exploring the educational applications of AI technology.

Putting the AI in Legislation

Thomson Reuters on Wednesday (Nov. 15) launched a series of initiatives aimed at transforming the legal profession through the use of generative AI. 

This comes as PYMNTS Intelligence in “The Confluence of Law and AI: An Inevitability Waiting to Happen,” a collaboration with AI-ID, finds that more than half of legal professionals are uncertain about the technology’s reliability, and nearly two in five do not trust it.

Consumers of legal services are not entirely won over either, with 55% of clients and potential clients expressing serious concerns about the use of AI within the legal profession.

Still, 62% of legal professionals believe that effective use of generative AI will differentiate successful firms from unsuccessful ones in as little as five years. An even higher share, 80%, agree that generative AI will introduce “transformative efficiencies” — a sentiment echoed by law firms and corporate legal departments.

Those potential benefits — transformative across not just law but all sectors — are a part of why Chinese tech giant Alibaba reportedly said Thursday it will not spin off its cloud intelligence business amid the ongoing focus on AI.

Elsewhere in the News 

Of course, the ongoing focus on AI doesn’t come without some growing pains.

OpenAI is putting a hold on new signups for its ChatGPT Plus program, due to widespread demand putting a strain on the platform, the company said Tuesday, as tech companies increasingly rely on consumer subscriptions to boost profits. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also on Thursday took a proactive stance in protecting consumers from the potential dangers of artificial intelligence-enabled voice cloning technology, unveiling the Voice Cloning Challenge and inviting submissions of ideas that can help prevent the misuse of AI technology for fraudulent and malicious purposes.

In an unrelated announcement, Microsoft on Wednesday launched the public preview release of Azure AI Speech, technology that allows users to create talking avatar videos with text input and build real-time interactive bots using human images.

And Amazon introduced on Wednesday an AI security solution designed to cater to the needs of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that combines robotics, smart security and AI to enable customers to keep an eye on their business 24/7, even from home. 

But for AI’s widespread applications to be fully capitalized on, end-users need to be familiar with the technology. 

New PYMNTS Intelligence from “AI-Enabled Payments Enhance Customer Options,” a report by PYMNTS Intelligence and ACI Worldwide, found that there are significant differences across gender, generations and income levels when it comes to familiarity with AI.

For example, a higher percentage of men — 46% — consider themselves very or extremely familiar with AI compared to 33% of women. Similarly, although the margin is smaller, a higher percentage of men (35%) than women (about 31%) acknowledge AI’s significant role in their daily personal activities.

For all PYMNTS AI coverage, subscribe to the daily AI Newsletter.