01 March 2023
In this article we consider the key areas of generative artificial intelligence (AI) that middle-market business leaders should be thinking about.
The massively successful launch of ChatGPT has helped bring awareness of generative AI to the masses. But ChatGPT is just one of many applications for generative AI, and as businesses either embrace or avoid the technology, it is creating both new risks and exciting opportunities.
What is Generative AI?
Generative AI – broadly – is the use of AI to create new content. However, it is just one form of artificial intelligence that sits alongside a range of other fields, including fuzzy logic, predictive AI, deep learning, machine learning and robotics. The nature of AI means that some of these fields overlap. And whilst AI is typically believed to be a product of scientists starting in the 1950s, we are still at the very starting stages of its scope and potential.
Analysis from CB Insights indicates that Generative AI funding in 2021-2022 has been spread across a range of areas. For the moment ‘Text’ has attracted the most investment at $852m. However, ‘Visual’ media is a close second at $822m across 58 deals. Considerable further investment has been made in generative interfaces: speech, audio and code - $586m, $212m and $140m respectively.
Data, productivity and knowledge management
For many businesses, the opportunity in the use of this type of AI lies in predictive modelling, productivity and knowledge management.
A tool that generates content based on vast data sets can be a powerful weapon for research, for example in fields such as pharmaceuticals or law. One of the key attributes of a tool is its ability to work 24/7 – unlocking untold productivity. However, productivity aside, the outputs are ultimately still a result of the datasets and the algorithms the AI is based on – a human layer will almost certainly still be required in the immediate term to check and review any content, as chatbots can, and do, generate wrong answers.
Moving beyond text into visual and audio
Business leaders need to consider the potential of a tool that can create new content and how this is going to impact their business. Generative AI can create images. OpenAI tool DALL-E can do so from text-based inputs. The images below are some examples of those generated from the tool based on the prompt, “a business advisor in London writing an article about Generative AI for a global audience.”
These images are just four from an infinite bank of generated content created in seconds. A visit by this author to London to take images in front of national landmarks would be considerably more expensive and with, debatably, little return on investment. The capabilities of generative AI are vast – perhaps better illustrated by the prompt, “a grapefruit drinking coffee on the beach in Provence”.
The power of generative AI lies in its ability to create new content from scratch or to edit and combine existing content. All this opportunity carries a raft of ethical questions – for example, if art is created on a dataset of pre-existing, historic art, then who owns the copyright to these new images? Is it even art?
The boardroom agenda
For business leaders the AI revolution presents an unheralded opportunity. But c-suites will need to consider how these new technologies will impact their businesses carefully whilst assessing the opportunities for productivity, innovation or access to new markets. This will include areas as varied as the ethics surrounding use of AI, an evolving regulatory environment and the impact on their workforce.