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DeepMind Co-Founder: AI Hype Obscuring ‘New Renaissance’

One of the co-founders of DeepMind says hype is hindering progress in the AI space.

Speaking to the Financial Times (FT) Sunday (March 31), Demis Hassabis said that the flood of money into generative artificial intelligence (AI) companies and products is reminiscent of similar buzz around cryptocurrencies.

“Some of that has now spilled over into AI, which I think is a bit unfortunate. And it clouds the science and the research, which is phenomenal,” he added. “In a way, AI’s not hyped enough, but in some senses it’s too hyped. We’re talking about all sorts of things that are just not real.”

The advent of OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot in November 2022 triggered a wave of investment in AI projects. According to the FT, investors pumped $42.5 billion in 2,500 AI startup equity rounds in 2023, per market analysts CB Insights.

However, the report said regulators are taking a closer look at companies for making false or exaggerated claims about their AI products.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned against “AI-washing” — a reference to “greenwashing,” when companies inflate their environmental record — and earlier this month charged two investment advisers with misstating their AI capabilities.

“We’ve seen time and again that when new technologies come along, they can create buzz from investors as well as false claims by those purporting to use those new technologies,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said at the time. “Investment advisers should not mislead the public by saying they are using an AI model when they are not. Such AI washing hurts investors.”

And last week saw the release of a study by the U.S. Treasury on the cybersecurity risks posed by the growing use of AI in the financial services sector. 

“The Treasury study reveals a troubling lack of data sharing on fraud prevention, further disadvantaging smaller financial institutions. Limited data hinders their ability to develop effective AI fraud defenses, while larger institutions leverage massive data troves for model training,” PYMNTS wrote. 

Despite these sorts of concerns, Hassabis told the FT he remained certain that AI is one of humankind’s most transformative creations.

“I think we’re only scratching the surface of what I believe is going to be possible over the next decade-plus,” he said. “We’re at the beginning, maybe, of a new golden era of scientific discovery, a new Renaissance.”