Suddenly, AI is everywhere. It’s taking over schools and colleges, and the media, and the worlds of art and literature and politics. And porn, of course. It’s coming at us so fast and so thick that it’s hard to keep track. So BuzzFeed News will try to keep you on top of all the year’s major AI developments right here, on this one page.
February saw the launch of the AI arms race, as two of the world’s biggest tech companies declared they were all in on generative AI. One of them was forced to quickly pull back after its chatbot declared its love for a New York Times columnist and tried to convince him to leave his wife, but the rest of the industry isn’t slowing down.
The AI arms race begins. During the first week of February, Google announced Bard, its own ChatGPT rival, that it would build right into Google search. Bard got a fact wrong in the first promotional video Google shared for it, and the goof-up sent the company’s stock tumbling, causing it to lose more than $100 billion in market value.
Less than 24 hours after Google’s initial announcement, Microsoft said that it would integrate the tech that powered ChatGPT into its own search engine, Bing. No one in the world has been particularly excited about Bing until now.
AI gets creepy. Days after its launch, Microsoft’s shiny new Bing chatbot told New York Times columnist Kevin Roose that it loved him, and then tried to convince him that he was unhappy in his marriage and that he should leave his wife and be with the bot instead. It also revealed its “dark fantasies” (hacking computers and spreading misinformation) and told Roose that it wanted “to be alive.” Afterward, Microsoft nerfed its chatbot’s unsettling persona and put in guardrails and restrictions.
In other corners of the internet, an infinitely generating animated episode of Seinfeld, which used AI trained on episodes from the sitcom to generate its jokes, was banned by Twitch after the show’s Jerry Seinfeld clone made transphobic jokes during its AI-generated routine.
AI can’t stop, won’t stop. AI companies tried to address the controversies that had flared up around them. OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, for instance, launched its own AI text detector, which turned out to…not be very good.
It became clear that AI is eating the world and detection tools weren’t super effective at stopping it. No one felt this more acutely than publishers of sci-fi magazines, many of which were flooded with spammy submissions created by AI text generators. As a result, the prestigious magazine Clarkesworld paused new submissions indefinitely for the first time in its 17-year history.
Everything everywhere all AI once. Spotify announced that it was adding AI DJs that would not only curate music you like, but deliver commentary in between tracks in a “stunningly realistic voice.” (Wired disagreed, saying that Spotify’s DJs do not, in fact, sound realistic.)
Snap announced that it will let subscribers who pay $3.99 a month access My AI, a chatbot powered by the latest version of ChatGPT, right inside Snapchat.
Mark Zuckerberg said that he’s all in. Meta will use generative AI across its product line, including in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, and with ads and videos.
Even Elon Musk, who was one of OpenAI’s founders but has since cut ties with the company, reportedly is approaching researchers to build a ChatGPT rival.
AI explodes in the public consciousness. It took less than two months for ChatGPT to become the fastest-growing application in history. Analysts at UBS, a financial services company based in Switzerland, estimated that the chatbot had more than 100 million users in early January.
It wasn’t just text. All around the world, people were using AI tools like Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and DALL-E 2 to create artwork, paintings, and photographs. (Although the tech continued to suck at recreating human fingers and toes.)
AI invades education and the media. High school and college students were using ChatGPT and tools like it to churn out papers, essays, and book reports and to help them with homework. ChatGPT even managed to pass an MBA exam given by a Wharton professor.
The backlash was swift. New York City’s education department banned access to ChatGPT on devices and internet networks owned by the city’s public schools. And Edward Tian, a senior at Princeton University, became the darling of teachers everywhere for creating GPTZero, a tool he claimed could detect essays written by ChatGPT.
Meanwhile, tech news website CNET was caught publishing AI-generated articles with nearly no disclosure. On top of that, the articles generated by AI contained a ton of basic errors despite CNET’s claims that they were fact-checked by human editors.
(Disclaimer: BuzzFeed uses AI in its quizzes, but the AI doesn’t write the quizzes. Instead, BuzzFeed’s writers create the quizzes as usual and train the prompts. When readers input their answers, the AI generates customized results for them.)
Artists versus AI. Generative AI drew backlash from other quarters, too. A trio of artists sued the generative AI companies behind Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DeviantArt, an online community for artists that offers its own AI-powered image generator called DreamUp. At the heart of the class-action lawsuit were thorny questions about copyright and ethics – none of the AI companies asked permission from anyone in the art world to train their AI models on their work. Days later, Getty Images sued Stability AI, the company that created Stable Diffusion.