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MWC24: Microsoft, Google, Others Outline Principles for Responsible AI Deployment

At the ongoing Mobile World Congress (MWC24) in Barcelona, Spain, conversations on the responsible deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across globe, as well as the need to tackle inappropriate images and bad actors of AI, took centre stage with no less than six keynote sessions at the opening ceremony, which featured the biggest names from the mobile industry like Microsoft, Google, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone, among others.

Speaking at the event, Microsoft President and Vice Chair, Brad Smith outlined a series of principles for the responsible deployment of AI, as well as a multi-year partnership with France-based Mistral AI during a keynote address.

The collaboration with Mistral AI is notable due to Microsoft’s previous investments in rival OpenAI, which is believed to total roughly $13 billion.

Smith stated that the partnership with Mistral AI reflects Microsoft’s commitment to work with a broad range of companies as part of its AI Access Principles announced at MWC24.

According to Smith, Microsoft’s AI principles govern how it operates its data centres and additional AI assets located around the world. While there are a total of 11 AI principles, he explained they fall within three primary categories.

“The first is the responsibility to enable innovation and competition while the second is meeting AI obligations under the laws and regulations in each country. The last principle is creating a broad array of AI-based partnerships, which includes the joint development of technology stacks. They’re about access. They’re about fairness and they’re about our broader societal responsibilities,” Smith said.

While tackling the inappropriate images and bad actors in AI, Head, Research Division, Google’s DeepMind Technologies, Demis Hassabis, said recent high-profile problems with pictures generated by the search giant’s Gemini AI, would be resolved in a matter of weeks, as he conceded there were several pitfalls to be negotiated before the true potential of generative AI (GenAI) can be unlocked.

Several news sites have reported how Gemini had produced culturally inappropriate images.

Hassabis said the feature was, “well-intended, designed to reflect the broad user base of Google by delivering results with a degree of universality.”

In the case of historical figures, though, he conceded the feature was applied ‘too bluntly’, in turn highlighting one of the ‘nuances that comes with advanced AI’ in terms of unexpected outcomes.

He said the feature has been taken offline, with the aim of ironing out the quirks and bringing the service back online in short order.

Hassabis also addressed the potential for ‘bad actors’ to use GenAI for nefarious purposes, adding that all players in the sector must discuss how to deliver the benefits of the technology without possible harmful ends.

Speaking about the positive impact of AI, Hassabis said the AI pioneer had plenty of examples of the good that AI has already done, particularly in the field of medical research.

He pointed to advances in protein research, which could ultimately contribute to a reduction in the time taken to develop life-saving pharmaceuticals from an average of ten years to discover one drug, down to maybe a matter of months.

On his part, Telstra CEO, Vicki Brady, said the operator’s ambition to become an ‘AI-fuelled’ organisation and leader in Australia, will only be achieved through ongoing collaboration with partners, while investments in talent and cloud-based infrastructure will also play a crucial role.

Speaking at a panel session during The Digital Vision for Telcos keynote, Brady acknowledged no company can do this alone. She cited Accenture and Microsoft as two key technology partners and pointed to engagements with customers and other industry sectors such as banking, with the joint launch of go-to-market products.

“AI has to be a “whole business strategy, it’s not a technology strategy,” she added, noting it was embracing it to fix some of the biggest pain points and opportunities that we see inside businesses.”

The CEOs of Vodafone Group, Telefonica, Orange and Deutsche Telekom, called for rapid and radical regulatory changes to ensure they are able to continue to serve customers, invest in networks and innovate.

In a keynote address during the opening ceremony, Vodafone’s Margherita Della Valle; Telefonica boss, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete; Orange Chief, Christel Heydemann and Deutsche Telekom’s Timotheus Hoettges, made a joint plea for regulation to be eased or improved in areas such as spectrum allocation and in-market consolidation.

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