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AI Movies, Outsourcing Training, App Stores, and AI Assistants
This Week in AI
This week’s update:
Here’s this week’s news, product applications, and broader philosophical implications. So here we go:
🧮 Outsourcing AI Training to AI
🛒 App Store
🎥 Art and Jobs
Latest News and Updates
According to Pixar, making fire look realistic but not creepy is really difficult. So for the VFX, they are now using neural style transfer (NST) to animate in a way they haven’t done before.
For Sohn, it was an opportunity to make the movie look the way he wanted, while also making something that looked like nothing audiences had ever seen before. It symbolized, he says, one of the things he loves about Pixar: the meeting of art and technology, where the latter is a big part of the process, but only one element.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the fact we can use AI to push the boundaries of creativity is pretty exciting. Augmenting what we’ve done (or never done) before.
It was inevitable, but goes to the problem we discussed last week about model collapse. Why would a person continue to do a repetitive, low-value task when we can get AI to do it?
A significant proportion of people paid to train AI models may be themselves outsourcing that work to AI, a new study has found.
It takes an incredible amount of data to train AI systems to perform specific tasks accurately and reliably. Many companies pay gig workers on platforms like Mechanical Turk to complete tasks that are typically hard to automate, such as solving CAPTCHAs, labeling data and annotating text. This data is then fed into AI models to train them. The workers are poorly paid and are often expected to complete lots of tasks very quickly.
No wonder some of them may be turning to tools like ChatGPT to maximize their earning potential.
Are you ready for the next wave of chatbots and tools? OpenAI may be launching a marketplace where you can create, sell, and buy customized AI models. It seems like a natural progression.
The company is considering launching a marketplace in which customers could sell AI models they customize for their own needs to other businesses, according to two people with knowledge of discussions at the company.
Hot on the heels of the EU moving to regulate AI, the US is starting to think about it?
President Joe Biden will meet with artificial intelligence experts in San Francisco on Tuesday as the U.S. government continues to grapple with how best to regulate the technology, according to a White House official.
The visit comes as many in Washington are seeking to learn more about AI’s risks and benefits for society so they don’t repeat the mistakes around lack of early regulation on social media and other internet technologies.
I don’t know how to feel about tech giants telling their own employees to stay away from AI chatbot tools. It’s almost like they’re saying to all of us that they know they’re using unethical practices to train their models, and they’re okay with it as long as the data comes from everyone else, but they don’t want their data as part of the models.
Alphabet is reportedly concerned with employees inputting sensitive information into these chatbots since human reviewers may sit on the other end reviewing chat entries. These chatbots may also use previous entries to train themselves, posing another risk of a leak.
Useful Tools & Resources
This week I explored tools to help with AI Meeting Notes. This is a broad topic, so we’ll have more to come. I’ll be creating a library of these tools soon, so remember to check back for everything soon.
I began using Sembly.ai for meeting notes. It integrates with my Google calendar, but I can also invite it to meetings from other sources (which is really useful if you’re managing several calendars like I am). I can also use it for in-person meetings through the computer or app. I don’t attend a ton of in-person meetings right now, but the ability to get notes in-person seems really great.
I spoke with the founder of Sembly.ai on my Product by Design podcast and we had a great conversation. You should check it out (and, no, I’m not getting any kickbacks for this, and am paying for my account):
Otter.ai has been around for a long time, and has some great looking features as well. It is more expensive than Sembly.ai, but looks like it also offers a few more things right now. I will probably take it for a spin in the coming days.
Similar to Sembly and Otter, Supernormal offers to attend meetings, make notes, create follow-ups, etc. I’ve just started experimenting with it as well, since it has a free pricing tier.
I’ll be testing this one soon as well, but Meetgeek has similar functionality to the other offerings here.
Krisp also offers similar functionality. I believe it started as a noise reduction app for online meetings, but now has AI assistant functionality.
Deep Dive - AI, Art, and Jobs
Disney received a lot of negative press this week as we learned that AI was responsible for the opening credits of Secret Invasion.
Some outlets reported that some VFX artists lost their jobs on this because of the use of AI. This was walked back by a statement from the studio that worked on the opening:
“The production process was highly collaborative and iterative, with a dedicated focus on this specific application of an AI toolset,” added Method Studios. “It involved a tremendous effort by talented art directors, animators (proficient in both 2D and 3D), artists, and developers, who employed conventional techniques to craft all the other aspects of the project. However, it is crucial to emphasize that while the AI component provided optimal results, AI is just one tool among the array of toolsets our artists used.”
Many artists and creators are rightly concerned about the use of AI in creative endeavors. The Writers Guild is currently on strike in order to codify that AI can’t replace writers but only be used for idea generation.
It certainly doesn’t seem like there is an imminent threat of AI replacing VFX artists or writers, especially given some of what we’ve seen so far. But AI is rapidly improving, and it’s difficult to see what jobs it won’t eventually touch.
It’s going to be a difficult balance. In my work, I’ve used AI to reduce the time it takes to do certain tasks by 10X. As I’ve created documents over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to draft up long documents in a matter of minutes. Then spend an hour or two customizing and editing based on my expertise. In the past, these have take me 10-15 hours, and now I can do them in 2-3.
So AI has become a force multiplier in my work. I’m not a VFX artist, but I understand that going through frame by frame to add FX is a long and difficult process. The ability to multiply what an artist can do through the use of AI seems like an incredible opportunity. But that ultimately depends on how we use it. Does it mean we only need a couple VFX artists, or does it mean we can use all the artists to create much more creative content?
I hope it is the latter. That is what I see for the future in engineering and coding. We can do much more. So rather than cut jobs or people, we can finally create 10X the things that were possible before.
AI isn’t going away. So we’ll need to continue to grapple with these difficult questions. I expect there will be many more missteps like the one Disney had. But we need to have these conversations and face this new reality head on. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to embrace change, multiplying human creativity more than ever before. But it’s going to be a bumpy ride.