Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm this year, growing from a simple platform used for fun to a massive tool used across industries and causing significant changes in the tech space.
With major technology giants all wanting a slice of the AI pie, 2023 brought about a slew of chatbots and large language models (LLMs), changing the way people researched and communicated.
Amidst the technological upgrades and developments, the AI world also saw its fair share of drama, with movements among key industry leaders and battles to emerge on top in the game. In the first of the “2023’s Top 5” series, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE rounds up the year’s biggest developments in the ever-evolving AI space.
1. OpenAI's ChatGPT enters the market
Trained by AI research and deployment company, OpenAI, ChatGPT entered the scene in November last year to immense popularity. According to a tweet by OpenAI’s co-founder, Sam Altman, ChatGPT hit one million users in less than five days of its launch. It really took off early this year though when companies began seeing its potential to simplify processes and to reduce workloads.
The generative AI language model enabled users to generate human-like text responses to simple keyword prompts. Its scarily human-like ability to produce well-researched content in seconds had many contemplating its implications on the future of writing-based jobs.
However, the technology also raised concerns regarding credibility, as it also had the potential to write plausible sounding but incorrect responses. Some marketers expressed skepticism about AI’s reach at the time and its overall impact on the grounds that it was not new. Yet, others suggested that ChatGPT’s ability to curate and process information had the potential to invigorate creativity.
Within four months, OpenAI released its most significant upgrade at the time, ChatGPT-4, in March 2023. Also known as GPT-4, the new, upgraded system sought to address the concerns that its predecessor raised, promising enhanced capabilities and reliability. Beyond text, users could now prompt the system with images, graphs, and infographics, making for a system that could analyse more complex topics and generate more accurate responses.
Despite the updates, however, many marketing professionals at the time maintained the belief that GPT-4 would not fully overtake the industry. They suggested that the human touch would still be essential, limiting the technology’s influence to minor communication functions.
2. Google's Bard enters the chat
In early February 2023, Google made a direct hit back at OpenAI’s ChatGPT with its own AI chatbot, Bard.
Powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), Bard was similarly a conversational AI service that enabled users to generate responses to prompts. Unlike ChatGPT, however, Bard appeared to have a leg up over ChatGPT as it was being trained with semi-live data.
This came as Google scrambled to catch up with competitor search engines’ use of AI. "Right now, Google is panicking because Microsoft has invested billions in Open AI and has announced that it will be revamping its Bing search engine using artificial intelligence," said Oo Gin Lee, managing director of Gloo PR, at the time.
He added that Google clearly had the technology to compete with ChatGPT, and that it simply needed to build into it.
3. Meta's LLaMA joins the scene
The next technology powerhouse to join the AI and LLM game was Meta, with the launch of its Large Language Model Meta AI (LLaMA) in late February 2023. The foundational, 65-billion parameter LLM was designed to help researchers advance their work in the subfield of AI, according to Meta at the time.
Rather than being a chatbot, it was created more as a research tool to help solve issues regarding AI language models. It also promised to allow researchers to test new approaches to limiting or eliminating existing problems related to risks of bias, toxic comments, and hallucinations in LLMs.
LLaMA was released under a non-commercial license focused on research use cases, with access granted on a case-by-case basis.
4. OpenAI gets embroiled in the Sam Altman saga
In November 2023, OpenAI dominated headlines when its board abruptly fired co-founder and CEO, Sam Altman, and then re-hired him again after significant internal and global uproar.
Altman was dismissed following a surprise statement by the board on 17 November, which said that he had not been consistently candid in his communications. The move came without warning and proper communication to OpenAI staff, which even led to employees threatening to resign in protest on 20 November.
Shortly after, OpenAI announced that it would be reinstating Altman as CEO on 22 November, with a new initial board. The communications failure from this episode was further exacerbated by key stakeholders issuing statements contradictory to the company on their personal social media platforms. With Altman back at the helm, OpenAI had its work cut out to restore trust in the firm and its people.
5. Southeast Asian countries enhance regional and local AI ecosystems
Closer to home, governments in Southeast Asia also ramped up their efforts to harness AI for a range of functions and to create LLMs that are sensitive to the cultural and linguistic nuances of local languages.
Malaysian communications and digital minister, Fahmi Fadzil, recently urged the use of AI to mitigate cybersecurity manpower shortages in November 2023. This comes as the country progressively looks to boost its digital economy, which also has come with an increased risk of cyber threats, according to a statement seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) will also reportedly be creating a code of ethics framework for AI in 2024. The framework is expected to include guidelines and regulations for stakeholders across various sectors.
Across the pond, Singapore unveiled its National AI Strategy 2.0 (NAIS 2.0) in December 2023, to build a trusted and responsible AI ecosystem. Under the strategy, the country aims to use AI to drive innovation and growth, as well as empower people and businesses to understand and engage with the technology.
Its national artificial intelligence programme, AI Singapore (AISG), also penned an agreement with four Indonesian entities in December to develop an open-source LLM tool in Bahasa Indonesia.
The move sought to enhance the adoption and development of AI in the region. The four Indonesian entities included Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Collaboration for Research and Innovation in Artificial Intelligence (KORIKA), Glair.ai, and Datasaur.ai.
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