Online education company Chegg has found itself with the honour of being the first company to at least ‘publicly’ admit that Generative AI appears to have had an adverse impact on its business model. On its most recent earnings call on May 1st, Chegg’s CEO Dan Rosensweig said that “since March we saw a significant spike in student interest in ChatGPT” which they believed was having an impact on new customer growth rates. The result was a 48% drop in the share price on the day to levels where it has remained since.
Meanwhile IBM a company which is no stranger to developing AI technologies having pioneered Watson over a decade ago and being involved in AI powered technology that was the first to beat a reigning world Chess Champion - also weighed in on the impact of AI. In an interview with Bloomberg, IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna suggested that they will slow and even suspend hiring in job functions that they believe could be done using today’s AI technologies.
This they believe would impact around 3% of its 260,000 strong workforce (roughly 8,000 positions) over the next five years. These roles are predominantly in back office, not customer facing positions such as human resources, and accounts.
There have been other high-profile examples of AI appearing to have a meaningful impact on jobs. After announcing that it was going to use AI to help generate material to enhance its content and quizzes in early 2023 just weeks after the media company, Buzzfeed announced a 10% reduction in its workforce. More recently the company admitted that it had used generative AI to write around 40 of the travel guides it had used online recently. It is safe to say this is just the tip of the iceberg with AI undeniably automating tasks in the service industry just like robotics has in the manufacturing industry.
Recent filings have revealed that Zipline, one of many drone delivery startups globally, recently managed to secure $330m in a series-F funding round at a valuation of $4.2bn. Since its initial venture round 12 years ago the company has now raised over $820m according to Crunchbase making it one of the best funded
Zipline started out in the developing world flying critical medical supplies such as blood and vaccines in Rwanda and other nations because healthcare is more readily funded and regulatory approvals for unmanned flights come faster. However, it has also been growing its commercial delivery business, with partners including Walmart, GNC, Pagliacci Pizza and Associated Couriers. They target one million autonomous deliveries by the end of 2023 after passing the 600,000 level in April.
Source: Zipline, YouTube
Zipline’s newest drone the P2 utilizes a two-stage delivery system, when the drone arrives at the target destination it then lowers what they call the delivery droid down on a zipline while the main part of the drone continues to hover above to enable ultra precise delivery.
Both the main drone and the smaller delivery droid are autonomous – the delivery droid (pictured above) utilizes a series of fans to keep it stable and allows it to gently land deliveries with ultra-high precision.
Another one of their innovations includes charging stations which look like lamp posts where the drone can autonomously land and recharge while it is waiting for its next delivery.
Geoffrey Hinton, known as “the Godfather of AI,” has resigned from his position at Google to be able to speak freely about his concerns about the rapid rise of chatbots and other generative AI technologies. The pioneering cognitive psychologist and computer scientist was a front-runner in the development of neural networks and deep learning technologies that power chatbot systems like ChatGPT. He believes that companies must exercise caution and restraint in their development of AI, and that regulation and transparency are necessary to ensure that these technologies are used responsibly.
His concerns stem from the recent launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a large language model that has demonstrated human like capabilities in a number of areas. He believed that the AI revolution was decades away, but the rapid progress of ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies has changed his mind. He worries that these technologies will make it difficult for people to discern truth from falsehood, and that they will lead to widespread job displacement as AI becomes increasingly capable of automating tasks.
His departure from Google comes at a time when others in the field are also calling for a pause in the development of AI. They argue that the rapid pace of innovation is outstripping our ability to understand and control these technologies, and that we must take a more cautious approach to their development. Without regulation and transparency, they warn, companies risk losing control of a potent technology that could have far-reaching consequences for society. The rise of chatbots and other generative AI technologies has raised particular concerns, as these technologies have the potential to spread misinformation and disinformation on a massive scale.