Woke AI and stuff from the Sydney Herald

Written by Michael E Dehn

Founder and CEO of Metro Pulse a continually running enterprise since May 1980.

March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024
TechnologyTim Biggs
 
Happy Friday! This week saw problems with Google’s latest AI features, a closing of the door on Apple’s electric car ambitions, and the release of an honestly very good two-screened laptop.
Google came under fire last week when its Gemini generative AI was shown to produce historically inaccurate images. Mostly circulated on X by conservative figures and pundits (including owner Elon Musk), the results included showing Native American founding fathers, and “Nazis” which were Asian women and black men in German uniforms. Many of the pundits tried to claim Google had intentionally made a “woke” chatbot. So what’s really going on here?
Generative AI has a history of reinforcing the biases inherent in material it’s trained on, for example showing only white men if you ask for images of “a doctor”. Google has rightly tried to correct this (which to be fair is an example of something Musk has deemed “woke” before), with unintentional consequences when it comes to specific historical requests. This week Google paused Gemini’s ability to generate images while it works on the problem. But how big a problem is it?
I’d argue it’s not necessarily a bad thing for AI to produce inaccuracies, because I do not want AI image generation to be the thing we turn to when we want to see historically accurate images. If you use a service such as Google to find images of German soldiers from the 1920s, it should return verified information, not AI-generated assumptions. Changing the algorithm so the mistakes are harder to spot may make the product less controversial, but it will not fix the fundamental problem.
 What to watch for
After 10 years Apple has reportedly ditched its plans to launch an electric car, apparently to the surprise of the 2000 people working on it. Bloomberg cites internal messages and sources indicating the decision was communicated to staff this week, with most of the workers on Titan being shifted over to generative AI projects. First confirmed publicly in 2017, Titan has been a Damocles sword over other American EV companies for years, but the opportunity has clearly passed.
Adobe has revealed a prototype generative AI tool that can create music tracks given a text prompt, and will allow users to edit it without needing specialised software. Though details are scarce, the company said you could start with a prompt like “happy dance” or “sad jazz”, and adjust tempos, instruments and loops from there. Just like artists who used to make a living from quick and cheap visual logos, people making hits and stings for podcast transitions may soon be out of a job.
And finally in depressing AI news, a team within Google DeepMind has shown off a new model called Genie that can take a prompt and generate a playable 2D platform video game. A brief video shows the games look like garbage and likely feel awful to play, not unlike a lot of the low-cost platformers already flooding digital stores, but given how much more complicated games are than images or videos this is still a remarkable — and slightly worrying — development.
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