Six months in, ChatGPT inspires awe and anxiety for generative AI

Looking back on the first half-year of generative AI discourse.
7.12.23 / 4 min read

ChatGPT can help you with many things. It can help brainstorm birthday gift ideas for your discerning 9-year-old niece, draft a tricky client email, or generate code for the layout of your new baking blog. Since its launch last November, ChatGPT has dominated the conversation around AI and has become a versatile ally, helpful guide, and valuable collaborator to millions.

Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT has undeniably left a significant mark on the AI conversation landscape and given a glimpse into the potential of what AI usage can look like for the average user. Within the last six months, it has become the central topic in one out of every four discussions related to AI, with its popularity reaching its peak in February 2023, capturing a staggering 34% of all AI conversations. However, despite being the talk of the town, sentiment has been mixed.

ChatGPT divides the crowd

ChatGPT has been both a source of awe and anxiety. Approximately 45% of the mentions of the chatbot were positive, while 42% were negative, driven by skepticism and apprehension. The fear of automation replacing human jobs looms large. Especially with the rapid advancement of AI, nervous chatter about job loss has increased across industries. 

Privacy is also a chief concern. With vast amounts of data being generated and analyzed, there are urgent questions about the security and confidentiality of personal information shared during interactions with ChatGPT. For instance, would a chatbot user’s questions about their grief or ongoing struggle with depression jeopardize their privacy in the long run? These apprehensions about data privacy also extend beyond individual experiences. Notably, the international stage has witnessed more serious reservations about privacy and data protection, as exemplified by Italy briefly banning ChatGPT until compliance with privacy laws was ensured. Still, it’s important to remember that while ChatGPT accounts for a large proportion of AI conversations, it’s not the only game in town. 

Titans of generative AI

OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google lead the pack when it comes to generative AI coverage in the media. These tech giants have consistently been at the forefront of discussions around cutting-edge developments in generative models and their potential applications. OpenAI commands the lion’s share of coverage, with 38% of all mentions in the media. Following closely behind is Microsoft, with 28% of the mentions. Meanwhile, Google has 16% of the mentions, indicating that the search giant’s contributions to the field have attracted a fair amount of media attention. Other notable companies making strides in generative AI include Meta, Midjourney, and Nvidia.

While these tech giants receive significant media coverage, it’s important to note that not all coverage is uniformly positive. OpenAI and Microsoft generally receive more positive attention compared to Google and Midjourney. The disparity in media coverage and sentiment towards different tech giants in generative AI can be attributed to various factors, including their actions regarding responsible AI development, mass layoffs, and data privacy concerns. Google, often regarded as a trailblazer in the field, has experienced a significant blow to its reputation. With the lowest sentiment score, the company’s public image was marred when its new Bard chatbot gave an incorrect response during a promotional video, resulting in Alphabet suffering a market value loss of over $100 billion. 

Tech icons in the limelight

The ever-changing landscape of media coverage and public sentiment holds sway not only over tech giants but also over influential figures who have risen to prominence as key players shaping the future of AI technology. Elon Musk and Sam Altman account for just over half of mentions in relation to generative AI, with Musk slightly passing Altman as the most mentioned individual. Musk’s name may dominate the headlines, but the sentiment surrounding him is overwhelmingly negative. In contrast, Sam Altman, the face of generative AI, enjoys a more lukewarm reception. On the other hand, Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, CEOs of Google and Microsoft respectively, have successfully navigated the AI landscape, boasting much higher positive sentiment scores and cementing their positions as leaders in the industry.

Despite receiving mixed reactions, the increasing presence of AI in our daily conversations highlights its growing importance in our lives. ChatGPT and generative AI have captured our collective attention and imagination, offering a world full of possibilities and concerns. While ChatGPT has emerged as a personal and professional companion for millions, it is just one part of a broader generative AI ecosystem that continues to expand and innovate. 

Whose voice will lead the next wave of generative AI discourse? What new innovations will emerge to dominate the conversation? The jury is still out, but one thing seems clear: Whatever shape the AI landscape takes in the future, it will probably look a whole lot different than it does today.  

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