The power of AI

Some tech executives think AI is giving Big Tech ‘inordinate’ power!

Too much power for too few

Tech execs have expressed concern that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is concentrated in the hands of too few companies, potentially giving them too much power. OpenAI’s ChatGPT marked the start of what many in the industry have called an AI arms race, as tech giants including Microsoft and Google have sought to develop and launch AI models.

A number of tech execs have said that they feel users have lost control of their data online and that it is being harnessed by technology giants to feed their profits.

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) is concentrated in the hands of too few companies, potentially giving them excessive control over the rapidly evolving technology.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT

An explosion of interest in AI was sparked by OpenAI’s ChatGPT late last year thanks to the novel way in which the chatbot can answer user prompts. Its popularity contributed to the start of what many in the tech industry have called an AI arms race, as tech giants including Microsoft and Google seek to develop and launch their own artificial intelligence models. These require huge amounts of computing power as they are trained on massive amounts of data.

Meredith Whittaker reportedly said of large tech companies and the current deployment of AI…

Right now, there are only a handful of companies with the resources needed to create these large-scale AI models and deploy them at scale. And we need to recognize that this is giving them inordinate power over our lives and institutions’, Meredith Whittaker, president of encrypted messaging app Signal, is reported to have said. ‘We should really be concerned about, again, a handful of corporations driven by profit and shareholder returns making such socially consequential decisions’.

Whittaker previously spent 13 years at Google but became disillusioned in 2017 when she found out the search giant was working on a controversial contract with the Department of Defence known as Project Maven. Whittaker grew concerned Google’s AI could potentially be used for drone warfare and helped organize a walkout at the company that involved thousands of employees.

‘AI, as we understand it today, is fundamentally a technology that is derivative of centralized corporate power and control’, Whittaker reportedly said. ‘It is built on the concentrated resources that accrued to a handful of large tech corporations, largely based in the U.S. and China via the surveillance advertising business model, which gave them powerful computational infrastructure and huge amounts of data; large markets from which to pull that data; and the ability to process and structure that data in ways useful for creating new technologies.’

In essence, BIG TECH has far too much power in AI technology.

Tim Berners-Lee

The inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, has also raised concerns about the concentration of power among the tech giants. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, says it is the state of social media that is of particular concern right now. On AI, however, he feels that while the technology giants now are leading the way, there is space for disruption.

Big tech and social media giants are inflicting profound damage on our society, and he believes AI could make this worse.

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