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The Publisher Lab: The Most Overused Term in Tech is AI

The Publisher Lab: The Most Overused Term in Tech is AI

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Another podcast episode recap and for once in a long time, Tyler nailed the intro.

If you would prefer to listen to the podcast, head to PublisherLab.org or watch it on YouTube.

The digital publishing news cycle appeared to have experienced a slight slowdown, as the initial excitement surrounding AI developments still lingers but has become more normalized. The enthusiasm has waned partly due to government concerns regarding AI, particularly among businesses like Bard and ChatGPT. Many are now adopting a more cautious approach, eagerly awaiting potential regulations before diving deeper into AI-related endeavors.

The concerns of governments and the general public regarding privacy and security in relation to AI extend beyond sophisticated code-cracking capabilities, focusing more on granting individuals the power equivalent to that of professional penetration hackers. This immediacy of privacy and security issues has prompted individuals and institutions alike to reevaluate their stance on AI. Today’s discussion will revolve around privacy, the emergence of AI being included in everything and recent news about Google being ordered by a regulatory authority to divest part of its ad tech business.

Prioritizing privacy regulation and data transparency

The prevalent issue of privacy regulation and data transparency resonates with individuals who often find themselves mindlessly agreeing to terms and conditions without a viable alternative. The lack of choice and understanding within these agreements, which often resemble lengthy novels, contributes to a widespread lack of awareness. Companies can exploit this lack of comprehension, which exemplifies how businesses leverage the language of these agreements to their advantage.

In response to these concerns, the government is taking steps to address the issue with a proposed act called the “TLDR Act” (too long, didn’t read). This act aims to make terms and conditions more regulated, concise, and understandable, allowing individuals to comprehend the implications of their consent. However, there is an ongoing debate on whether the industry should self-regulate or rely on government intervention. Some argue that the industry itself should take the initiative to regulate and simplify terms and conditions, while others express skepticism about the effectiveness of government-imposed regulations, citing past instances where well-intentioned legislation has had unintended consequences.

Critics of government intervention highlight the challenges of implementing effective privacy regulations. They argue that previous acts like GDPR and CCPA have added significant overhead costs and management burdens to both publishers and end-users. There is a widespread sentiment that government regulations often lack the granular expertise required for a well-thought-out and efficient implementation. With the complexity of emerging technologies like AI and the evolving landscape of data privacy, there is a need for thoughtful and nuanced solutions that genuinely serve the purpose of protecting user privacy without unintended negative consequences.

As the conversation surrounding privacy continues to gain momentum, the challenge lies in striking a balance between user rights, industry practices, and government regulation. While there is a consensus that the current state of consent agreements is problematic, finding a valid solution remains a point of contention. Some suggest revisiting the way browsers and ad exchanges interact, emphasizing the responsibility of dominant players in the market to implement privacy measures. Ultimately, the pursuit of effective privacy regulation in a rapidly evolving digital landscape necessitates comprehensive, well-informed discussions among stakeholders.

The pervasive labeling of AI in the tech world

In the realm of technology, the pervasive trend is to affix the label “AI” to almost everything. It seems that tech companies have embraced this practice, as artificial intelligence has become a widespread buzzword. The rapid progress in machine learning and pattern recognition, particularly since the release of ChatGPT, has fueled the AI frenzy. However, it is important to consider whether every technological innovation truly falls under the AI umbrella, or if the application of AI is even necessary for certain technologies.

Artificial intelligence has undergone an evolution in its definition over time. Initially, its goal was to replicate human reasoning capabilities. Nowadays, the focus has shifted towards large-scale pattern matching. To explain AI to someone without much technical knowledge, one could describe it as a set of rules or equations, known as algorithms, that dictate the desired output of a given process. While humans traditionally write these algorithms, machine learning—a subset of AI—allows machines to generate and modify algorithms autonomously. Machines analyze relevant variables, weigh their significance according to predefined goals, and continually update the algorithm. This process is much more efficient and agile compared to what humans can achieve manually.

However, it is worth noting that not every technology requires AI. Some tasks can be adequately performed with conventional algorithms. Certain situations call for straightforward decision-making processes without the need for machine creativity. Just as in the past when everything seemed to be about blockchain technology, the current AI hype can lead to the application of AI in scenarios where it may not be truly beneficial or necessary. The key lies in discerning when AI and machine learning can provide substantial improvements or exponential gains. For instance, the ability of machine learning to sift through vast amounts of medical research data to identify correlations between diseases or treatments demonstrates a clear advantage over human capabilities.

The reason behind the current explosion of AI lies in the accessibility of natural language models like ChatGPT. These models facilitate human-machine communication, enabling individuals to obtain valuable insights and take advantage of new innovations more easily. However, it is essential to differentiate between genuine AI advancements and the mere rebranding or refinement of existing technologies. Many products labeled as AI may only represent incremental enhancements rather than true AI breakthroughs. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals and organizations, especially publishers, to conduct thorough research and exercise due diligence when evaluating AI technologies. Doing so ensures that investments of time and money are made wisely, with a clear understanding of what AI can genuinely offer.

Looking ahead, some experts predict that by 2035, AI will reach its peak in areas such as medical advancements and education. While AI has access to vast amounts of existing data, there is a growing need for more specialized and curated data to tackle complex challenges effectively. Collecting the right data that aligns with the goals of AI models becomes a crucial aspect of future AI development.

By understanding the true capabilities and limitations of AI, individuals and organizations can make informed decisions and maximize the benefits offered by this rapidly evolving field.

EU ruling mandates Google’s divestiture of ad-tech assets

Google has been ordered by the European Union (EU) to divest parts of its ad tech business following a two-year investigation into alleged monopolistic practices. The EU commission found that Google favored its own advertising technology services over competing providers, which had a detrimental impact on advertisers and online publishers. The proposed solution from the commission is to force Google to sell off some of its advertising business.

Google has time to respond and present alternative solutions. It is worth noting that similar discussions have taken place in the United States under the AMERICA Act, although the progress has not been as significant as in the EU.

The issue of Google favoring its own ad products has been previously reported, with questions raised about the fairness of such practices. The complexity of this case and the need for expert opinions to guide the ruling have contributed to the length of the investigation. Regulating ad tech practices is a challenging task, although it is considered more straightforward than addressing broader data privacy concerns.

The outcome of this ruling in the EU could have potential repercussions in the United States, as there might be a reciprocal response. While the ruling itself and whether Google will be required to split up its business remains uncertain, the underlying issue revolves around the fairness and ethics of Google’s actions.

From the perspective of publishers, divesting parts of Google’s ad tech business could benefit them. Currently, Google’s control over ad buying, selling, auctions, and other processes limits the management options available to publishers. However, with divestment, publishers would face the challenge of navigating a potentially more complex landscape, albeit with increased options and flexibility. Extracting maximum value from their websites could require more involvement and a managed approach, although simplified solutions may still exist.

The EU’s action against Google reflects a broader trend of reining in big tech companies. Google’s case is just the beginning, as other tech giants are likely to face similar scrutiny. The technology revolution of the past two decades, combined with the rise of artificial intelligence, has empowered users and reduced dependency on major tech companies. Consequently, increased regulation and consolidation within the tech industry are expected in the coming years.

Comments, questions, concerns

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, we encourage you to leave a review on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Additionally, listeners can submit podcast suggestions, critiques, or topic requests online, either through PublisherLab.org or YouTube comments, and we’ll address them in future episodes.

If Tyler’s WordPress plugin interests you, you can find it on his GitHub. The plugin enables users to convert their posts into markdown format and make their content portable for integration with headless CMS or different WordPress sites. The solution may be more suitable for technically inclined individuals.

Whitney is a former journalist for numerous city-wide newspapers and online media sources and an accomplished digital and creative marketer. She has multiple years of digital publishing expertise and contributes regularly to all of Ezoic's content sources.

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