AI round-up: Week of May 20, 2024

In his weekly newsletter, Almost Timely News, Christopher Penn writes about the very real fear of ‘falling behind’ when it comes to AI.

He breaks down what leads to the fear of falling behind, how to recognize it and how to deal with it. I’d highly recommend reading it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this same topic, but for a different reason. The more people I talk to and hear from, the more I realize they are experimenting with and using some form of AI. So, at what point do we move from ‘Here’s how to use this’ to ‘What does using this means for all of us?’

It may be due to the fact that I’m reading Ethan Mollick’s new book, Co-Intelligence, but the time to understand and manage the macro issues this technology presents is now. It’s here. As Mollick himself says early in his book:

“Most importantly, the public needs education on AI so they can pressure for an aligned future as informed citizens. Today’s decisions about how AI reflects human values and enhances human potential will reverberate for generations.”

Sometimes, I get the impression that we’re waiting for something to happen … or someone to tell us. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we have to figure this one out on our own.

Dr Strange Endgame

The Big 5

AI at work is here. Now comes the hard part.
Christopher Penn links to this in the article we opened with. I was already planning on sharing because my friend Clark Harvey had sent it to me a week back. The stats are pretty eye-opening and fuel a lot of what I shared above. Three out of four people are using AI at work. 66% of corporations wouldn’t hire someone without AI experience. Working with and understanding how AI impacts your organization isn’t coming. It’s here.

Speaking of … here’s a rosy headline for you…

IMF boss warns of AI ‘tsunami’ coming for world’s jobs.
The headline from The Register grabs your attention, no doubt. But the article itself, while not giving much technical context, does pose a question similar to what I said in the opening – what’s being done to prepare us for the onslaught of AI-infused tech tools? Until then, companies are going to be left fending for themselves, and I don’t think the majority is going to be ok with the outcome.

They took our jobs Southpark

OpenAI dissolves team focused on AI risks less than one year after announcing it.
No time to discuss and debate the risks when there is money to be made on them. (from CNBC)

But what about the environment? 
This article from The Verge is just a sample of what I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more—PR-driven pieces from tech companies trying to deal with the fact that they are gobbling up resources to give us more and more AI tools. We are way, way, way too early in the game to fully understand the environmental impact, but at least some companies are trying something in the wake of no real governance.

Why do I keep thinking of the Opti-Grab from “The Jerk”?

A non-AI article to challenge all the AI thinking: 
Does your organization have the energy to transform? (from HBR)
We have talked a lot about the change needed to adapt to the arrival of AI in the workplace. And despite all the blogs, articles, pods, interviews, conferences, etc. – the quote that rings the loudest is the one that I discovered in the basement of our first home, waaay back in 2001. It was handwritten on a small piece of paper, hanging on some pegboard: 
“If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

Learn a little

Christopher Penn makes a second straight appearance here, mainly for his take on the Google I/O conference.

Keynote: Lukewarm take on Google I/O

Speaking of, check out this post from Paul Roetzer, linking to the latest Decoder podcast. It features host Nilay Patel asking Google’s Sundar Pichai the questions on everyone's mind after the I/O conference.

Did you hear about…

…newspaper conglomerate Gannett is adding AI-generated summaries to the top of its articles. (The Verge)

…Google is bringing back classic search—with no AI? (TechRadar)

…Scarlett Johansson is mad at OpenAI. (NBC News)

…Nvidia’s stock is doing ok? (Yahoo! Finance)

…Michael Schumacher’s family wins compensation for fake AI interview? (BBC) What the heck is happening?

Must read/must discuss:

Real v. Fake: Virtual influencers on the rise.
This article from DigiDay takes a very operational approach to this topic. My take, as it usually is in matters of communications, is: What’s best for your strategy and organization? The reality is that we wouldn’t be debating this if people were accepting digital influencers in the space.

My personal take, having seen some of these virtual versions? It’s not about how believable they look or seem … it’s about the influence they have. We can’t lose sight of why influencers are called that in the first place–they have it because they’ve done something to earn it. Whereas AI-generated influencers have it because … why?

Thanks for reading!


As a reminder, this is a round-up of the biggest stories, often hitting multiple newsletters I receive/review. The sources are many … which I’m happy to read on your behalf. Let me know if there’s one you’d like me to track or have questions about a topic you’re not seeing here.