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Managing Reputation in the Age of AI

Photograph of the panel at the Managing Reputation in the Age of AI event

What a difference a year makes. Exactly 12 months since the launch of ChatGPT, FGS Global brought together an expert panel to gauge how far AI has changed the world and what lies in store in 2024.

Moderated by FGS Partner Theo Hildebrand, the panel of Phillip Souta (Global Director of Tech Policy At Clifford Chance), Louise Herring (Partner at McKinsey / Quantum Black),  Shabbir Merali (Director of Intelligence at CogX and former Special Advisor to the Prime Minister), and Kate Marshall (Developer and Global Technical Ambassador Lead at IBM Quantum) helped make sense of changes to regulation, geopolitics, business strategy and the emergence of quantum computing.  

First up: regulation. A flurry of activity including the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, the White House’s AI Executive Order, and G7 agreements signalled a broad coalescence towards a risk-based approach by governments and policy makers. Despite the emerging nature of regulatory frameworks, thresholds on the size and power of LLMs – above which governance requirements are imposed – have been agreed. Nonetheless, regulators must continue to move quickly to keep up.

Despite China’s attendance at Bletchley, our panel highlighted the potential tension between global superpowers who see AI as an area of strategic importance. In possibly the biggest year for public elections, we may yet see the negative impact of generative AI in terms of deepfakes and misinformation in 2024. Trust remains at a premium and the established media may reinforce its position as the go-to source for reliable information.  

In the corporate realm, bridging the gap between exciting proof of concept projects to real world transformation remained the primary challenge for business leaders. Productivity, efficiency and creativity are real benefits, but having the right vision and choosing the right combination of tools remains the key to success. Continual communication and education for employees cannot be overlooked, along with having the right team and frameworks in place to keep users and customers safe.

The panel also discussed an adjacent, emerging technology – quantum computing – and how it might overlap with AI in the coming years. Three areas quantum could make an impact are detailed computer simulations (such as the early stages of the universe); optimisation (including nationwide energy grids); and improved machine learning, which would overlap with AI. Being able to divide up problems and allocate elements to AI via GPUs or to quantum via QPUs to solve will hold the key to the confluence of these two technologies. Kate from IBM also argued that quantum computing would benefit from following similar frameworks to AI in how the field is regulated and develops.

Finally, we discussed the drama at OpenAI and the reinstatement of Sam Altman. The panel felt this was an important moment when corporate AI decided it could now choose to move fast and break things.

Five key learnings from the panel:

1.       The progress towards a risk-based approach for global AI regulation is a big positive. But like climate change, it is easy to be supportive of general concepts. Tensions are more likely to appear where the implementation of rules forces governments to make real choices on the outcomes of AI usage.

2.       Artificial General Intelligence will significantly disrupt the labour market and force governments to think about the social contract and taxes. However, major challenges have a way to focus minds to find solutions and lead us to better answer the question: “Where do humans add more than machines.”

3.       For business leaders, the main parts of the Gen AI jigsaw puzzle are now in place. The difficult part is assembling them effectively to scale new services and offerings. Leaders need to be continually assessing their assumptions – on cost, technology, data, and partnerships – and ask the right questions of their teams.

4.       Trust in public discourse will become a major theme in 2024. Technologies like watermarking will make a breakthrough, but an expected increase in misinformation will cement the importance of trusted, established media.

5.       Quantum technologies will both break standard encryption techniques and hold the key to creating new encryption methods that will keep data safe in the future.

Theo Hildebrand