In February, artificial intelligence (AI) ranked #11 in our Top Conversation in Tech, up from #13 in January and registering a 10% increase in coverage volume from Jan’21 to Feb’21. Year over year, it only experienced a 1% decline in conversation volume. This trend interestingly mirrors how so much of the conversation around AI seemed to represent a battle between the past and the future.
Google, IBM, and the military were the biggest names in AI in February—as they all seemed to clash between their past AI decisions and investments while simultaneously trying to leap forward into the future that AI has in store. Google continued to face challenges with their AI Ethics research team, following up Timnit Gebru’s firing with the firing of Margaret Mitchell Timnit’s, former co-head and the founder of the team. Meanwhile, ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski closed his AI church, The Way of the Future church.
IBM looked to sell Watson Health, an investment geared towards creating AI for healthcare, due to issues with patient privacy. They also announced a partnership with Palantir for AI office solutions, after which Palantir’s stock rose 15%.
Finally, the Pentagon has been pushing to include AI in as much machinery as possible, from cockpits to tankers. They also announced partnerships between the new Space Force and civilian AI companies Maxar Technologies Holdings, Inc. and Astrobotic Technology Inc. All the while, officials are looking to use AI and the thousands of images posted online from the conflict in Syria to identify war criminals.
In the latest installment of facial recognition criticism, we also saw Clearview AI being faced with privacy regulations in Canada, Europe, and Australia regarding their acquisition and storage of both biometric and internet data for facial recognition without receiving permission.
However, as always, there was a lot of fun and exciting news in the AI conversation last month. From voice assistants like Siri and Alexa being trained to understand atypical speech, to a chess program being trained to understand human failure.
Ultimately, as the AI industry continues to grow, we’ll see a lot more reckonings and challenges struggle against the seemingly endless ream of possibilities as it continues to take two steps backward and one step forward.