In 2023 we’ve experienced a rapid rise in artificial intelligence discourse, as the public begin to see firsthand the impact these advances have on their daily lives, while grappling with concerns over ethics, job elimination, and how it will evolve.
In the last five months alone there have been more articles written about artificial intelligence and more engagements to those articles than in all of 2022. The chart below shows the number of engagements to articles since the start of January, which have totaled more than 17 million compared to 15.8 million in 2022.
From these discussions we’ve spotted a few major narratives that are carrying the weight of the public’s interest, including news about applications like ChatGPT, AI’s role in sharing information, and the overarching worry of AI becoming dangerous.
Fear of the future
The idea of robots or machines becoming the dominant form of intelligence on earth is a seed that was planted many years ago — often depicted in TV and films but still having an undertone of “that’s too far fetched.” The reality of that looks a bit different in the present day, but concerns around AI have been a high interest topic, especially when they’re coming from those who helped pioneer the technology.
The most engaged article to surface about AI this year was about Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, also referred to as the ‘Godfather of AI”, leaving his job at Google in order to speak freely on the risks of AI. The New York Times’ story has received over 88k engagements since it was published, and was responsible for the biggest spike in public interest so far this year.
Elon Musk leads a lot of conversations
Musk’s online presence is not easily ignored, and that’s apparent through his consistent tweeting, but also from his ability to dominate the headlines, especially when it comes to tech.
Looking at Twitter, the top tweets about AI this year have largely come from the billionaire’s account, from sharing memes and jokes to explaining how AI is being used on the platform, with the latter receiving over 191k engagements.
In the months ahead, we will use AI to detect & highlight manipulation of public opinion on this platform.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 18, 2023
Let’s see what the psy ops cat drags in …
Media publishers, however, have been reporting on Musk’s other comments, which include his plans to launch his own rival to ChatGPT that he refers to as “TruthGPT.” This has been covered by several websites including Business Insider, Engadget, and CNBC, with Reuters having the top article that saw 61k engagements.
Musicians and actors speak out about AI
In mid-April a song that used AI to clone the voices of Drake and Abel Tesfaye (professionally known as The Weeknd) went viral on social media, and as a result, ignited conversations around AI’s ability to extinguish human creativity in producing music.
Most recently this discussion was taken up by Ice Cube, who said that AI music was “demonic” after being asked about it on a podcast. Business Insider had the top story about the rapper’s comments, which received nearly 30k engagements.
But it’s not just the music industry that stands to be affected by this innovative technology, with the entertainment industry in general proving to be a space where AI can really infiltrate. Tom Hanks shared his belief that he could keep appearing in movies even after death by way of AI, and the potential for AI-screenwriting has been a point of contention in the recent Writers Guild strike, suggesting that this could be a problem as well as a positive going forward.
We suspect that more themes will emerge this year to capture public attention as the technology evolves, and these might come from billionaires, entertainers, or the people behind the technology themselves. Whatever the case, AI has officially entered the mainstream and is here to stay.
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