Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector
ChatGPT? Not for me
“Chatbots are bullshit engines built to say things with incontrovertible certainty and a complete lack of expertise,” argued Business Insider senior correspondent Adam Rogers this week.It was refreshing to hear the other side of the story after months of chatter around how AI-based programmes like ChatGPT are going to revolutionise our lives, whether we like it or not.
And there is no lack of recent, high-profile examples to back up Rogers’ hypothesis.
With OpenAI’s ChatGPT storming ahead as the most popular chatbot on the scene, industry giants like Google and Microsoft are getting keener to throw their hats into the ring.
While both businesses certainly have the technological chops to launch AI-based programmes to the public, it has previously been reported that they are reluctant to do so while the technology is still so prone to making mistakes.
And indeed, their fears have in many ways been realised, just as Rogers points out.
An ad last week for Google’s chatbot, Bard, showed it getting an answer to a question wrong. After the mistake was picked up by the public, Google owner Alphabet’s share price took a 9% hammering, wiping billions of dollars in value off the company’s market cap.
Microsoft-owned Bing’s chatbot, Sydney, also gave less-than-accurate information during its open demonstration recently.
The reason for that is that large language models do not possess true intelligence, but are able to predict the likelihood of something being correct. If its accuracy is likely enough, information will be used in response to queries and presented as the truth.
“Google’s own AI researchers had warned the company that chatbots would be ‘stochastic parrots’ (likely to squawk things that are wrong, stupid, or offensive) and ‘prone to hallucinating’ (liable to just make stuff up),” according to Rogers.
Naturally, all this brings about new dangers in the realm of disinformation.
In a tale with many twists and turns, meandering through scientific experiments, psychology, philosophy, and quite a lot of swearing, Rogers goes on to explain why people are likely to become increasingly inclined to believe what the bots tell them – whether they’re right or wrong.
NY ad ban bill spreads fear among gambling investors
The Times shone some light on the impact of a new legislative bill introduced in New York last week after congressman Paul Tonko put forward a potential ban on all sports betting advertising in the state and across the US.
The Betting on our Future Act is modelled on the Federal Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act, the piece explained, and was revealed just as the US sports betting industry was gearing up for the biggest event on its calendar, the Super Bowl.
The bill – whether it is passed in New York or not – should serve as “something as a warning sign to the industry,” according to Goodbody gaming and leisure analyst David Brohan.
While a total ban on TV, radio and internet advertising would be “damaging to market growth in the still nascent US market,” Brohan conceded that big operators with established brands would be insulated against its worst effects.Indeed, it doesn’t take an especially vivid imagination to envisage a situation where such a ban would make it utterly impossible for smaller brands to have a hope at challenging market leaders like FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars and BetMGM.
Following the news, the piece pointed out that FanDuel owner Flutter Entertainment’s shares slid by 2.8%, while Entain fell by 2.7% – though that was in part due to MGM’s recent assertion that it would not make another attempt to acquire the London-listed gambling giant.
Making for particularly interesting reading was the comments section of the article.
Commenter Ian Wylie pondered: “MGM could just be trying to lower Entain’s share price ready to swoop,” while Sean Thornton took a more antagonistic approach, suggesting the gambling firms should: “Cry me a river.”
Times user cbailey pragmatically suggested we should “Bring in this law in the UK and tax gambling profits at 95%,” while Philip Levy, ever the optimist, dusted off his crystal ball to suggest: “I bet the share prices bounce back.”
And they say that nuance is dead.
TikTok trials gambling ads as Sportsbet targets Rihanna super fans
The Guardian revealed that Flutter-owned online gambling brand Sportsbet is using TikTok to target young women with advertising in an attempt to broaden its predominantly male client base.
The operator has been allowed to target Australian users on the social media platform – which currently bans all gambling promotions – as part of a strictly controlled trial, revealed the newspaper.
And shortly before the Super Bowl took place last week, Sportsbet took advantage of its new permissions, publishing a video ad drawing attention to “novelty bet” markets on Rihanna’s half-time performance.
Bets on such thrilling outcomes as what outfit Rihanna would wear during her performance, what props she would use and how long she would sing for were all included in Sportsbet’s showcase.
In another boon for sports bettors everywhere, users were also encouraged to wager on what colour liquid would be poured on the winning coach after the match.
NB: Why stop there? Why can’t we bet on what colour laces a particular sportsperson will use to tie their boots, or whether the team captain will appear bearded or clean shaven? Anyone fancy a punt on how many players will mess up the words to the national anthem?
According to the article, Sportsbet has published other videos featuring Sydney-based influencer Luisa Dal Din. One video used the caption: “Me pretending I know horse racing to impress my crush.”Ah, gambling companies. When will you learn? Is the best way to increase female participation in horse racing betting really to suggest that women don’t understand it, and that they would only bother trying in order to secure the approval of a man?
Advertising expert and swearing enthusiast Toby Ralph said Sportsbet was “finding new markets. [Young women] who couldn’t give a shit about the merits of the Chiefs or the Eagles can be induced to pony up cash by connecting to a bet on Rihanna, and suggesting that the tribe they want to join is crazy for it,” he said.
As for the million dollar question, he answered that too: “Does this lead to ethical concerns? No. From an advertising perspective, if it’s legal, they will go all in.”
Perhaps nuance is dead, after all…