I wrote last week that many large companies are taking a cautious approach to generative A.I., both out of concern for protecting their proprietary data, and out of uncertainty as to where to start. I plunged further into that issue yesterday with a group of about 20 members of Fortune’s CEO Initiative. Joe Atkinson, chief products and technology officer for PwC, which sponsored the event, characterized the concerns of his clients this way:
“People have watched the capability of generative A.I. to deliver really, really thoughtful responses, sometimes fully accurate, sometimes not fully accurate. And it has opened up this question about, well, how do we use this in the right way? How do we use it in a responsible way? And every single client I’m talking to is trying to figure out how to go fast, but how to go fast in a responsible way.”
Microsoft Executive Vice President Chris Young said that while large companies may be moving cautiously, the startup world is at full throttle:
“We’ve literally seen thousands of startups in the last six months move into this space. I’m in San Francisco, and there’s a hackathon happening three or four times a week. The amount of energy going into this is palpable…There are companies going after marketing, companies going after customer support, a lot of tooling focused on speech recognition. You name it.”
Some other excerpts from the conversation:
“Every single board meeting we’ve had this year has had a standing agenda item of A.I. and ChatGPT and this whole space, to make sure we’ve got our board kind of pacing with us as we’re thinking about where we’re going.”
—Pat Geraghty, CEO, GuideWell
“Our introduction to generative A.I. course has had four times the enrollment of the next most popular course of all time for us.”
—Jeff Tarr, CEO, Skillsoft
“We think of our financial advisers as being experts in ‘head math’ and ‘heart math.’ I think generative A.I. has a huge potential to offer personalized head math. But I think it will be years before generative A.I. can replace the heart math, because the heart math doesn’t always align with the head math.”
—Terry Rasmussen, CEO, Thrivent
“We all remember the old-school travel agent who was a human being, who knows something about you and what you could afford, and would do it all for you when putting together your travel…That’s what generative A.I. is basically going to do. You’re going to have that conversation again. And it’s going to be with an A.I. agent.”
—Glenn Fogel, CEO, Booking.com
“We have two guidelines that we’ve established for ourselves in terms of using generative A.I. One is that we are only going to use it on our closed data sets….which means approved data that has been vetted….The second is, it’s always going to have a human in the loop.”
—Rohit Kapoor, CEO, EXL
“We use ChatGPT to write code….[Software development that] used to take anywhere from eight to 10 weeks…now can be done in less than a week.”
—Girish Mathrubootham, CEO, Freshworks
“When you asked the question, ‘Does anybody here use generative A.I. to write code,’ there was silence probably because nobody on this call is actually coding. But I think we all need to assume that many of our developers are using generative A.I. in their own coding.”
—Rob Lake, CEO, Boulevard
More news below. And read why one top tech analyst compares the current A.I. gold rush to Game of Thrones.
Zoom Video Communications raised its full-year revenue forecast on Monday as the company said its post-pandemic fall in customers is stabilizing. The company now predicts 2% growth in annual revenue for the full year. Zoom reported a 13% year-on-year increase in quarterly enterprise revenue as the company shifts to business clients rather than individual consumers. Reuters
Ireland slapped Meta with a $1.3 billion fine on Monday for privacy violations and ordered the social media company to stop transferring European data to the U.S. Meta has previously threatened to pull services like Facebook and Instagram from Europe if such a ban went into effect. Fortune’s David Meyer writes that Meta could stay in the region if the U.S. and Europe agree to a new data transfer agreement, yet courts struck down two earlier agreements for insufficient privacy protections for European users.
First Citizens, the new owner of Silicon Valley Bank’s U.S. operations, accused HSBC of poaching over 40 employees of the failed U.S. bank in a lawsuit filed Monday. The employees resigned en masse after being offered “great fortune” to defect, the lawsuit alleges. HSBC purchased SVB’s U.K. operations for £1 following its collapse in March. Financial Times
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
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Biden takes swipe at ‘wealthy tax cheats and crypto traders’ on final day of G7 summit by Ben Weiss
Don’t be fooled by the S&P 500 rally, says Wall Street’s top strategist Mike Wilson by Chloe Taylor
Gen Z is ‘caught in a whammy between COVID and ChatGPT,’ and middle managers are too burned out to realize it by Jane Thier
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This edition of CEO Daily was curated by Nicholas Gordon.
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