Sep 28, 2023 - News

Chatting AI at the Silicon Slopes Summit

Photo: Courtesy of Silicon Slopes

On Wednesday, I popped into the Silicon Slopes Summit downtown with Google Cloud CTO Will Grannis to chat about:

  • how small businesses can deploy generative AI effectively;
  • the research applications of AI models emerging from Utah's biotech scene; and
  • why chocolate is the best Frosty flavor at Wendy's.

The intrigue: A couple of weeks ago, I hit up Salt Lake's chapter of 1 Million Cups, a networking group for startups, and asked what their questions would be if they had a half hour with Grannis.

  • To my surprise, the AI-enthusiastic entrepreneurs immediately took the conversation to a philosophical, dystopic sci-fi place, with allusions to "Blade Runner" and "Ready Player One."
  • Who will control how we perceive the world, and how will they use that power? Will our minds still be our own in five years? How will we know if or when we've become marionettes of Big Tech?

What they're saying: It's "more Baconator" than "Terminator," Grannis responded, referring to Google Cloud's role in automating orders at Wendy's.

  • At this point, businesses — big and small — are still focused on practical tasks like optimizing customer service chatbots and voice transcription for technical fields like medicine, Grannis said.

The other side: In a survey this month, AI experts said regulation is needed to safeguard against bias, mass job losses and the potential of AI to escape human control, Axios' Ryan Heath reported.

The bottom line: I'm cool with ordering my Dave's Single from a machine, or getting a transcription service that doesn't think "brine fisheries" are "Brian fisheries."

  • Yes, but: This newsletter was — and, for the indefinite future, will be — entirely reported and written by humans.
  • (Well, except for the autocorrects. And a couple of words of predictive text. And the calculations in our data on working moms. And the search engine returns that produced a lot of the linked sources.)
  • (OK, but you still need us, we promise.)

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