VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Is the fever for generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) - the currently most popular form of artificial intelligence (AI) - on track to be the tulip mania of the 2020s? As I recently argued, the whole thing could turn out to be nothing more than a fad, but it is currently still way too early to tell.
AI has undeniably hit it big. Google Search - driven by AI - has made more money than almost any product in history. Google Search has been AI-powered since the outset - when it included zero percent generative AI (GenAI) - and continues to make a ton of money now as bits of GenAI are presumably blended in. GenAI presumably helps the quality of results, though whether this has had a material impact on the bottom line is unclear.
Meta, too, has made an immense amount selling ads, and AI - though not necessarily cutting-edge AI - has always partly allowed it to place those ads with such precision. As in the case of Alphabet and Google Search, to see from the outside whether GenAI has had a material effect on Meta’s profits is hard.
A few years ago, a joke in Silicon Valley - anchored to some degree in reality - held that if one had .ai in the domain name of one’s startup, it meant that one could automatically add a zero to one’s valuation - e.g., USD100 million instead of USD10 million.
Nowadays, it feels like this could be two zeros, especially if one claims to be using GenAI. However – and this should be obvious - just because something is powered by AI does not mean it will automatically mint truckloads of money.
GenAI has not to date become the cash cow many thought