PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

This Week in AI: Upskilling Workers, VC’s Secret Weapon and Apple’s New ReALM

AI, artificial intelligence, technology

This week in artificial intelligence (AI) news, the U.S. and the U.K. are collaborating on safety tests for advanced AI technologies. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have formed a task force to prepare workers for the AI era, addressing the urgent need for AI skills in evolving job markets.

In venture capital, AI has shifted from a hot investment zone to a key tool for smart investment decisions.

Here’s a lineup of the latest in AI this week. 

AI Safety Testing

The United States and the United Kingdom are working together to establish safety tests for cutting-edge AI technologies, PYMNTS reported on Thursday (April 4). 

The collaboration seeks to synchronize the scientific methodologies of both nations and hasten the creation of effective testing procedures for AI models, systems and entities. This endeavor is part of an expanding worldwide initiative aimed at mitigating the safety concerns associated with AI.

“This partnership signifies a greater level of accountability being expected of corporations to guarantee their offerings are secure, reliable and ethical,” Andrew Pery, an AI ethics advocate from ABBYY, a global leader in intelligent automation, said. 

He said there’s a tendency among pioneers of groundbreaking technologies to rush their products to market under a “launch now, correct later” approach to secure an early market presence. As an illustration, he noted that while OpenAI has been relatively open about the potential dangers of ChatGPT, the company still proceeded with its wide commercial release despite the possible negative effects.

The U.S.-U.K. alliance is in line with the pledges made during the AI Safety Summit in November, where world leaders underscored the importance of international collaboration to tackle the potential dangers of AI technology. The summit, hosted in Bletchley Park, U.K., gathered government officials, industry leaders, scholars and representatives from civil society to explore both the challenges and prospects that AI poses.

Boosting AI Skills in the Workforce

Leading technology firms, including Google and Microsoft, have joined forces in a task force dedicated to equipping the workforce for the artificial intelligence (AI) era, responding to the critical demand for AI-proficient professionals in changing job markets.

This alliance features major players like Accenture, Eightfold, Google, IBM, Indeed, Intel, Microsoft and SAP, alongside six expert advisors. With AI transforming various industries and job descriptions, there’s an acknowledged urgency to train employees in skills essential for thriving in AI-driven settings.

Francine KatsoudasCisco’s executive vice president and chief people, policy and purpose officer and a member of this initiative, emphasized the significant opportunity AI offers for the private sector to lead in upskilling and reskilling the workforce for what lies ahead. She highlighted the consortium’s commitment to collaborating with governments, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to ensure the AI revolution benefits everyone.

PYMNTS’ previous reports have highlighted the dual-edged nature of generative AI technologies like ChatGPT, which promise to enhance productivity but also pose disruptions to the labor market. 

A study by Goldman Sachs estimated that automation might affect 25% of jobs in the U.S. and Europe, especially in legal and administrative fields. While a large portion of jobs may face automation, the report suggested most employees will remain employed, with fewer than half of their tasks being automated. Only 7% of U.S. workers are in roles where AI could take over at least half of their duties, potentially leading to job displacements. 

Venture Capital’s Latest Strategic Asset

In venture capital (VC), AI has evolved from a lucrative investment area to a critical instrument for making astute investment choices.

AI’s ability to swiftly process vast datasets on startups and market dynamics enables venture capitalists to spot the most promising investments and make more informed decisions regarding fund distribution. This technological advancement is revolutionizing the venture capital industry, and it is at the forefront of redefining startup funding methods.

Steve Brotman, founder and managing partner of Alpha Partners, highlighted the role of AI in enhancing venture capital operations by complementing human insight with machine intelligence to precisely pinpoint real investment opportunities amidst the clutter.

“AI empowers us to scrutinize market tendencies, evaluate startup performance indicators and other pivotal data at a magnitude and velocity that surpasses the capacity of human analysts,” Brotman said. “This not only boosts efficiency but also significantly upgrades our decision-making process by offering unparalleled insights into potential investments that were once beyond our reach.”

According to business research giant Gartner, by 2025, over 75% of VC and early-stage investor evaluations will be assisted by AI and data analytics. Currently, AI is deployed to examine consumer behavior, trends and preferences. Investors are increasingly relying on AI tools to assess compatibility between the founder’s vision, their team, the business model and the investors’ objectives, aiming to forecast the investment’s success.

Apple’s AI Development

Apple’s research team has developed an AI technology known as ReALM (Reference Resolution As Language Modeling), designed to navigate through the complexities of ambiguous references and contextual clues. This innovation aims to transform interactions with voice assistants and could significantly alter the retail and service industries.

ReALM approaches the challenge of deciphering screen-based visual references by framing it as a language modeling task, leveraging the capabilities of advanced language models. This development is among various efforts aimed at refining AI-driven voice communication, which has the potential to enhance various commercial applications.

AI researcher Dan Faggella, although not associated with Apple, shared with PYMNTS his insights on the implications of improved AI communications. He highlighted the current frustrations with chatbots and the potential for sophisticated AI systems to swiftly and courteously address straightforward inquiries, potentially boosting customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales.

The demand for voice technology is escalating. A PYMNTS study revealed a growing consumer interest in voice technology, with 54% of participants eager to use it more extensively in the future owing to its convenience. Furthermore, 27% have used voice-activated devices within the past year, and 22% of Gen Z consumers are willing to spend over $10 monthly for enhanced voice assistant services.

However, another PYMNTS report on U.S. consumer attitudes unveiled some skepticism regarding the effectiveness of voice AI in quick-service restaurants compared to human interaction. Only 8% of consumers said they believed voice assistants can currently match human performance, with just 16% hopeful for such equality within the next two years. A majority remain either anticipatory of a longer wait or doubtful of voice AI attaining human-like reliability and intelligence.