The year 2023 has been remarkable for the artificial intelligence industry. Dramatic stories like the AI-driven writers’ strike in Hollywood or the (temporary) sacking of Sam Altman from OpenAI have filled headlines all over the world, but behind these stories lies a trend of explosive industrial growth.
This article will explore the most important developments in artificial intelligence – as a technology and as an industry – for the year 2023. While the initial shock of seeing machines create essays and paintings may be starting to fade, the industry’s accelerated development shows that the age of AI is only just beginning.
- GPT-4 Launches, And OpenAI Shuts Its Doors
- An AI Earthquake In The Entertainment Industry
- The UAE and the UK join the AI race
- NVIDIA Launches The H100 GPU
GPT-4 Launches, And OpenAI Shuts Its Doors
OpenAI released their latest artificial intelligence system, GPT-4, in March 2023. It remains the most powerful large language model (LLM) in existence, outperforming its competitors on almost every benchmark.
While ChatGPT has roughly 180 million users, the number that subscribes to the €20 monthly ChatGPT Plus plan – necessary to access GPT-4 – is presently only 1% of that figure. Microsoft, which owns a 49% stake in OpenAI, subsequently announced that GPT-4 would be integrated into its proprietary web search engine Bing.
Why is this important?
Besides defining the state-of-the-art for artificial intelligence technology in 2023, GPT-4 signals a momentous paradigm shift for its owner company, OpenAI.
Unlike previous iterations of ChatGPT, GPT-4 requires a paid premium to be used, or else a commitment to Bing. Moreover, and again breaking previous trends, OpenAI stopped sharing information that may be useful to other AI researchers. Their published technical report on GPT-4 all but flaunted its own secretiveness: “this report contains no further details about the architecture (including model size), hardware, training compute, dataset construction, training method or similar”.
Born in 2015 as a non-profit company intended to make AI free and accessible for all, it is fair to say that OpenAI – now valued at €80-€90 billion – has fully embraced its identity as an industrial player. This transformation was not smooth – in November 2023 it degenerated into a civil war within the company that saw CEO Sam Altman sacked and then reinstated amid threats of mass resignations from the staff. But it is certainly complete.
With OpenAI shutting its doors, the fate of open source AI development is now in the hands of competitors like Meta’s LLaMa-2, or to smaller but remarkably dynamic companies like Hugging Face, which is fast becoming a haven for independent AI researchers.
An AI Earthquake In The Entertainment Industry
Cases of artificial intelligence making an impact on the entertainment industry in 2023 have been so many, and so widespread, that it is impossible to list them all. Here are a few of the most prominent.
ByteDance’s Ripple allowed users to hum a tune, and turn it into a fully-instrumentalised song for them. Vanity AI allowed film directors to apply artificial make-up to their actors, and has been used in shows like Stranger Things. The startup Boomy allowed users to generate musical pieces, upload them online, and earn royalties when they are played – they claim to have generated 18 million songs so far. Sudowrite offered writers an AI editor and reviewer of their work. HeyGen used AI to sync a celebrity’s lips to a dubbed voice, and recently went viral by making Taylor Swift speak fluent Chinese.
All of this, however, also led to significant pushback. The most famous and dramatic case was that of the writers’ and actors’ strike in Hollywood, which lasted from May to September and forced the studios into major concessions on copyright and AI use. But cases of AI companies being sued by artists for copyright infringement really were a dime a dozen in 2023, even involving such heavyweights as John Grisham and George RR Martin.
Why is this important?
Think of the Star Wars franchise alone. In 2023, Disney purchased the rights to the voice of James Earl Jones, aged 92, to keep playing an AI-voiced Darth Vader for decades to come, while an AI-rejuvenated Mark Hamill plays a young Luke Skywalker in a variety of Star Wars shows.
The voice of celebrities has become a marketable commodity, and their age customisable. The consequences this will have on the entertainment industry as a whole are momentous. Meta already announced in September the release of chatbots that let users ‘converse’ with celebrities like Snoop Dogg, and the options for stars to reach fans on more platforms and in more languages are growing exponentially.
The profusion of content that is being created is staggering, to the point that the entertainment industry is taking measures to curb it. Spotify removed AI-generated songs in spades, and its rivals Tidal and Deezer are moving in the same direction. Amazon had to ban authors from self-publishing more than 3 books a day on Kindle, and publishers now have to openly declare when a book is written by AI.
All of this is just the beginning. The 70s cult band ABBA held virtual concerts in London this year using AI-generated avatars, and they sold out consistently. Get used to your favourite celebrity being virtual – and virtually immortal.
The UAE and the UK join the AI race
In 2023, the United Arab Emirates unveiled Falcon 180B, a stunningly powerful LLM, as well as Shaheen III, the most powerful supercomputer in the Middle East.
Elsewhere in the world, the United Kingdom turbocharged their AI industry. In 2023 they created more new AI unicorns and had their AI research papers more widely cited than any other country in the world except the USA and China.
Why is this important?
We have grown used to thinking of artificial intelligence as a field of research exclusive to the USA and China, but by now the global race is on. More and more countries are pushing their AI industries, and we are seeing some new players emerge with enough heft to make a difference.
The UK and the UAE may not seem like obvious rivals to the USA and China, but they both have great potential. The UK has a highly advanced academic system and a large industrialised economy that can make the most of AI development – although they come somewhat short in terms of proprietary AI infrastructure.
The UAE are exactly the opposite – their economy is not yet as diversified as the UK’s and they can’t boast universities like Oxford and Cambridge, but they now have an LLM and a cutting-edge supercomputer of their own. On top of that, because research is directed by the state rather than by private companies, the AI industry can draw on sovereign-wealth funds worth €1.5 trillion in assets (by comparison, the entirety of OpenAI is valued at €80-90 billion).
Engineers looking to work in AI in the coming years won’t have to move to the USA or China. New AI hubs, it seems, are fast developing all over the world.
NVIDIA Launches The H100 GPU
In March 2023, NVIDIA launched its latest chip designed to run artificial intelligence systems, the H100 GPU. The hardware architecture to support systems on the H100 is time-consuming to build, however, and most companies and researchers in 2023 still relied on older hardware like NVIDIA’s own A100, V100, or RTX 3090 chips.
Why is this important?
If OpenAI is the dominant force in AI software, NVIDIA are the undisputed kings of hardware. Large-scale clusters of GPU chips are foundational to artificial intelligence research, to the point that the US government banned their export to China over fear of competition. And in 2023, NVIDIA’s chips were credited in almost twenty times as many AI research papers as all other chips combined.
NVIDIA’s stranglehold on the market derives from their ability to combine services. They preemptively acquired companies like Mellanox Technologies, who specialise in networking services that are crucial for the chips to operate together. They also own CUDA, a software platform popular among AI researchers, and they started promoting it early.
While the H100 is still in its early phases, the longevity and preponderance of NVIDIA’s previous chips suggests competitors like Intel and AMD have a mountain to climb. NVIDIA’s share price climbed from €131 at the beginning of last January to peaks of €459 in October, and their annual revenue for 2023 was €25 billion, compared to €10 billion just 3 years ago.
…And There Will Be More
This concludes our overview of the most important developments in the AI industry in 2023 – but it certainly does not exhaust the topic of artificial intelligence.
Stay tuned for our upcoming article on how AI will change the world in 2024. A revolution is coming, and a world of opportunity with it. You can make the most of it.