AI-Generated Art Sounds Alarming, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

Microsoft Designer is powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 AI technology and will generate any image that users type into a box.

AI-Generated Art Sounds Alarming, But It Doesn’t Have to Be

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Microsfot Designer tool will be offered as part of Microsoft 365

  • Microsoft Designer app is currently available only in beta
  • DALL-E 2 bans images showing explicit sexual and violent content
  • Microsoft Designer is powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 AI technology

Just a few months ago, the concept of using artificial intelligence to generate unique artwork seemed cutting-edge and futuristic. Pretty soon it will be as mundane as running a Google search. Microsoft announced this week that it was making the most of its $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,250 crore) investment in OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research outfit, and bringing that firm’s standout AI service to Microsoft 365, the company’s flagship bundle of software services. Microsoft Designer is powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 AI technology and will generate any image that users type into a box, such as “cake with berries, bread and pastries for the fall.”

It’s a swift step forward for DALL-E 2, which was first announced just six months ago. While the Designer app is available only in beta currently, the rollout underscores how quickly art-generating AI has been moving, to the extent that artists have expressed concern. Some artist names come up especially frequently as text prompts in similar art generators, and that has some worried about what the technology will do to their careers. AI ethicists are also https://jiji.ng/ fretting about a flood of new fake imagery hitting the web and powering misinformation campaigns.

Yet Microsoft’s involvement in this field is good news. The company is echoing OpenAI’s limited rollout of DALL-E 2, as well as its strict rules about the types of images it will generate. For instance, DALL-E 2 bans images showing explicit sexual and violent content and does so by simply removing such images from the database of pictures used to train its model. Microsoft has said it will use similar filters.

Microsoft also said it would block text prompts on “sensitive topics,” which it didn’t elaborate on, but which will again most likely mirror DALL-E 2’s policy of banning queries related to things like politics or illegal activity, or images of well-known figures like politicians or celebrities.

There has been some hand-wringing among tech ethicists that open-source versions of this kind of technology, such as a tool released in August by British startup Stability AI, will lead to a free-for-all of fake content that will infect social networks and disrupt coming elections (think fake images of Joe Biden or Donald Trump in controversial situations).

But a carefully curated version of the technology from Microsoft seems to dampen that prospect for two reasons. First, opportunistic photo fakers are more likely to find their efforts stymied by the filters embedded in the technology. Also, as more people use such tools, the general public will become more aware that photos on the internet could be generated by AI.

It’s extraordinary that this form of creative artificial intelligence is moving so quickly and that Microsoft’s Designer tool will soon sit alongside business-software stalwarts like Word, Outlook and Excel. This is, as some have already pointed out, like clip art on steroids, limited only by a user’s imagination.

It also underscores how hard it can be to predict the direction that artificial intelligence will take. A few years ago, tech pundits widely expected that we would have self-driving trucks and cars on the road that would slash accident rates and put human drivers out of work. Now it’s artists and illustrators who have greater reason for concern, though the nature of their work may simply change. As art generation comes to the fingertips of millions, they will need to be flexible.

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Elon Musk Can Make an Even Smarter Bid Now

Indonesia wants Tesla to make cars and batteries locally.

Elon Musk Can Make an Even Smarter Bid Now

Photo Credit: Reuters

Indonesia wants Tesla to make cars and batteries locally

  • Indonesia has had manufacturing incentives in place for cars for several
  • Toyota Motor dominates the Indonesian auto market
  • Indonesia’s auto market is growing

Indonesia wants Tesla to make cars — and batteries — locally. That might be the smartest bet Elon Musk can make, and it won’t be so hard. “What we want is the electric car, not the battery. For Tesla, we want them to build electric cars in Indonesia,” President Joko Widodo said in an interview with Bloomberg News’ Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. The country wants a “huge ecosystem of electric cars.”

Jokowi’s got the right idea. If firms can make batteries there and use the nation’s vast nickel resources, then they can also be part of the solution that helps the country go green. As part of its electrification roadmap, Indonesia wants to make around 400,000 EVs by 2025 and increase that severalfold thereafter. It’s working to build out an EV supply chain domestically — from metal extraction to smelting and all the way to battery-ready precursor products.

In recent months, Tesla and battery giants like China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution have poured in billions of dollars into the country to set up nickel processing and powerpack projects as the race to grab raw materials globally heats up. It has effectively become a promising hedge to global supply chain woes and shortages. Jakarta, quite astutely, now wants to leverage its position.

Indonesia isn’t asking for much. While the country’s auto market is hardly of any meaningful size, it is growing, in part because making cars there isn’t difficult or weighed down by the red tape that holds back other emerging markets. The world’s biggest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp., dominates the market, along with other Japanese manufacturers. China’s SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co.’s domestic unit just last week launched a locally made small electric vehicle — the AirEV. Other Chinese manufacturers have also recently set their sights on the market, while South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. said it’s working on a locally assembled EV, too.

The Southeast Asian nation has had manufacturing incentives in place for cars for several years. It has used these requirements for decades to boost domestic industry production. Companies can bring in completely knocked down kits, or CKDs, meaning parts from overseas that are then assembled domestically, or incomplete kits that contain some Indonesian components. The percentage of local content determines the tariffs, which aren’t prohibitive.

Indonesia has long been notorious for maddening bureaucratic hurdles to foreign business. Jokowi has spent much of his presidency trying with mixed results to lower barriers to investment. The government has overhauled regulations and laid out policies for EVs, making it simpler for them to be produced locally. There are now fiscal and non-fiscal incentives in place like tax deductions and holidays on EV-related materials and machinery, certifications and preferential financing rates. All told, the comprehensive plan smooths the way for foreign players. Consumers are being encouraged to buy green cars, helping to create a local market.

By leveraging these requirements, Tesla could easily meet Jokowi’s challenge by bringing in CKD kits from China — the EV parts supplier to the world — to build the Model 3, or perhaps a new, smaller and more basic vehicle. It won’t be an expensive proposition.

It’s done the same in China, where Musk took advantage of all the subsidies on offer, including loans, cheaper land and production incentives to help Tesla manufacture millions of electric vehicles. In doing so, he helped elevate both China’s EV status and his own company’s, and catered to an eager consumer base. He’s now exporting autos to the rest of the world. Making a splash in Indonesia’s market, with barely a million cars a year (compared to the 20-some million made in China), can be easily accomplished.

That could pave Musk’s way to making batteries, which is the ultimate — and more lucrative — endgame.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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