DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Business titans trudging through the snow in the Alps can’t stop talking about a chatbot from San Francisco.
Generative artificial intelligence technology, which can invent almost anything anyone can think of and type into a text box, is attracting venture capital not only in Silicon Valley but also in Davos this week at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.
Defining the category is ChatGPT, a chatbot released in November by a startup called OpenAI. The technology works by learning from vast amounts of data how to answer any prompt from a user in a human-like manner, delivering information like a search engine or prose like an aspiring novelist.
Executives have proposed a wide range of applications for the nascent technology, from use as a programming assistant to a step forward in the global race for artificial intelligence and military supremacy.
Attendees with significant stakes in technology development include Microsoft Corp., whose chief executive Satya Nadella will take the stage in Davos on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Microsoft has invested $1 billion in San Francisco-based OpenAI and plans to increase its investment, Reuters reported. In an announcement made alongside the conference, Microsoft said it plans to market ChatGPT to its cloud computing customers.
The political sphere began to weigh in on the rush late Tuesday. French politician Jean-Noël Barrot plans to hold a panel discussion with an executive at Sony Group companies on the technology’s implications.
Matthew Prince, chief executive of Cloudflare Inc, a company that protects websites from cyberattacks and provides other cloud services, thinks generative AI is good enough to be a junior programmer or a “very good thought partner.”
In an interview, Prince said Cloudflare is using this technology to write code on its Workers platform. Cloudflare is also exploring how such technology can answer queries more quickly for its free-tier customers, he said on the sidelines of the annual meeting.
This type of artificial intelligence could be used in military applications, said Alex Karp, chief executive of Palantir Technologies Inc, a provider of software that helps governments visualize troop movements or companies review their supply chains for tasks such as.
“The idea that autonomous things can produce results is basically clearly useful for warfare,” Karp told Reuters in Davos.
The country with the fastest development in AI capabilities “will define the laws of the land,” Karp said, adding that it’s worth asking how the technology will play out in any conflict with China.
Companies including CarMax Inc have used Microsoft and OpenAI’s technology, for example, to generate summaries of thousands of customer reviews when marketing used cars. The proposed venture funding also exceeds the wishes of some startups.
This sort of talk permeated the Davos rallies, for example about ChatBCG, the slide-generating robot named after the management consulting firm. The service said on its website that it was experiencing too much demand to continue operating.
An article on the World Economic Forum’s website calls generative AI “a game-changer that society and industry need to prepare for.” (Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Davos, Switzerland; Editing by Kenneth Li and Gerry Doyle)