By R. Larsson, Advertising Week
The UK held the first AI Safety Summit earlier this month, which was hailed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as a diplomatic breakthrough. Twenty-eight leading AI nations reached a global-first agreement at Bletchley Park on the need for regulation and a joint effort to manage potential risks from the development and deployment of AI.
But as the summit unfolded, trade unions and rights campaigners argued that the UK government had shut out millions of workers, who use AI everyday, accusing them of smothering innovation because of the influence given to Big Tech and global leaders.
As AI continues to dominate and concerns over safety ramp up, we spoke to four advertising and marketing experts on what’s next for AI – is it hindering or helping innovation and how it can be incorporated into advertising, marketing and business strategies in 2024?
We spoke to AI experts to get their thoughts.
Sean Betts, Chief Product & Technology Officer, OMG UK
AI is at the forefront of innovation, accelerating and driving seismic cross-industry changes, and enabling progress measured in weeks and months rather than years. We’re seeing Big Tech driving innovation in AI capabilities and the Open Source community pushing the boundaries of AI application – and in turn, endless exciting opportunities play out in real time. But with innovation comes a need for regulation which needs to be agile and encourage great leaps forward while also addressing immediate and real ethical issues. This is evidenced in the recently signed Bletchley Declaration on AI Safety which has seen 28 countries coming together to announce a new global effort to unlock the enormous benefits offered by AI and ensuring it remains safe.
With this safety net as a backdrop, I believe generative AI is a great ‘leveller’ for startups, in the same way that the internet allowed these businesses to more readily compete with and disrupt large incumbent businesses. With Startups able to take advantage of generative AI as readily as any other size company, since most AI models, capabilities and features are either free to test or incredibly cheap to use, we are likely to see innovative start-ups driving the next big round of disruption across all industries.
Neil Cunningham, Co-owner and CEO, Cream
Whether Big Tech are or aren’t smothering innovation is almost besides the point – Microsoft had invested $10bn in openAI by January 2023 and continue to spend on this trajectory, with Amazon, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet reportedly ramping up spending to a combined $42bn in the three months to September. No-one other than Big Tech can seriously hope to influence direction of travel at the moment. Significant regulatory concerns aside these organisations can and will accelerate development setting up a fascinating couple of years in the space.
It’s easy to see the future of AI through a dystopic lens. But with huge advances happening in AI, we are hurtling towards a reality where advertising need no longer be such a blunt tool based on audience assumptions, but instead a better optimised system that can not only understand, but also pre-empt the needs, wants, and desires of people. Businesses who capitalise on this opportunity whilst interrogating it’s limitations will undoubtedly reap rewards. But this will also cause huge ethical dilemmas for businesses as they tackle bias, misinformation, copyright, and privacy issues. In 2024, businesses must look at their own internal policies and ways of working around AI – they must set internal rules and responsibilities for AI use, perhaps establishing a dedicated AI ethics team, define the role of AI within the business, educate employees and partners, and maintain transparency wherever possible.
Mulenga Agley, CEO and Founder, Growthcurve
AI has now taken a strong foothold across many facets of the marketing industry and it’s inaccurate to claim that generative AI’s short term impact has been overstated. There is a rosy future ahead for AI and its impact on innovation, but marketers will need to have a clear understanding on how it can be used safely in 2024.
Following the AI Safety Summit, it’s clear big tech firms have a strong part to play in innovation and regulation in the space – contributing to the debate and development of a framework of regulations companies can work within. Likewise, Amazon’s $4 billion deal with Anthropic is a clear example that big-ticket commitments are still very much on the cards, and investors are still injecting funds to continue the evolutionary momentum where needed.
When we turn to the opposite end of the spectrum – start-ups – this is where I expect to see huge amounts of innovation emerging, focused on solutions with real-world applications. At OpenAI’s recent DevDay the company announced the launch of the GPT Store – enabling any company to build custom GPT agents that serve the creator’s specific purpose. It’s simple and easy to use, even with no coding knowledge. Just think of all the avenues this could open up for businesses in the start-up space.
Marc Linder, Technical Director, Imagination New York
It’s clear AI can increase efficiency. But it’s also capable of so much more, especially from a creative perspective. When used properly, it can be used as a springboard, paving the way for inspiration in 2D and 3D environments. This chance to utilise AI should be welcomed within businesses, no matter how big or small, to help push the boundaries of the human mind in collaboration with clients.
AI creates an opportunity to expand the possibilities of creative work and innovation. For me, Big Tech isn’t smothering innovation in this space. Instead it plays a crucial role in making all this possible. For example, one of our clients Meta, has the ability and means to train models and release them to the open source community to aid innovation. Training large language models (LLMs) is expensive and requires costly computational resources, coupled with human reinforced training. Without Big Tech, such as Meta, making this information public, allowing small business and individuals to innovate, the expensive training models would be in the hands of individuals and small businesses, slowing progress and fragmenting the community.