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Opinion | This year, prepare for the magic wand of generative AI to transform our world

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Last year, most generative AI tools, algorithms and large language models were primarily focused on a single media type: text, images, speech or video, with limited emphasis on the simultaneous processing of multiple media. But with the emergence of models like GPT-4, generative AI is shifting towards multi-modal expression, enabling the simultaneous handling of diverse forms of data.

This suggests that human-machine communication will one day effortlessly incorporate mixed media, as ChatGPT is starting to do. Users can input non-textual cues, such as images, making the conversation more convenient and natural.

Furthermore, multi-modal generative AI is poised to enhance the creative capabilities of artists and improve the efficiency of professionals in fields such as writing, journalism and music. When appropriately used, multi-modal generative AI can spark artistic inspiration, generate work drafts or even fully automate content creation.

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In 2024, there is likely to be a proliferation of AI-generated art, music, videos and stories. Experts believe that through generative AI’s artistic contributions, content will become more diverse, innovative and distinctive, ushering in a new era for creative industries.
Last year, generative AI operated primarily through user-driven prompts. Taking ChatGPT as an example, interactions were conducted in a “question and answer” format and were purely passive. In response to this limitation, scientists are researching “auto agent” technology.

Auto agents can both generate and respond to prompts, performing tasks more rapidly and efficiently. A recent example is the AutoGPT system, which recently raised US$12 million in a funding round. The goal is to develop AutoGPT into a large-scale open-source AI platform, serving various industries.

Also set to thrive is the development of personalised generative AI systems. Computer companies are researching and developing AI personal computers capable of running generative AI applications locally, while chip companies have developed AI-embedded mobile processors, enabling smartphones to execute generative AI models.

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A plethora of intelligent devices with diverse generative AI functionalities is emerging.

Generative AI applications that operate locally on personal computers and smartphones are built upon the concept of “federated learning”. This approach can afford consumers higher levels of privacy protection and security since these platforms do not need to send user data to the cloud for tasks such as searches or information organisation.

Meanwhile, by analysing user-specific data such as preferences, behaviours and conversations, this type of generative AI can optimise its performance based on individual characteristics and requirements, providing tailored content and task execution. This not only addresses concerns regarding privacy and security but also saves consumers time and effort.

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Generative AI is also expected to play a significant role in 6G mobile technology. This year, work to set and agree on 6G standards will continue with the anticipation that the first standards could be introduced between 2027 and 2028, and the technology could reach commercialisation by 2030. Generative AI can be applied to various aspects of 6G, such as network resource management, spectrum allocation and network topology optimisation.

It is also capable of meeting the demands of “connective intelligence” for new technologies. Connective intelligence is a key force driving the development of the 6G network, enabling real-time, reliable and ubiquitous interaction and communication between humans, the physical world and the digital world. This results in the creation of a decentralised and continually evolving intelligence, making it easier for users to share their discoveries and experiences with each other.

In summary, by the end of 2024, generative AI will become an invaluable assistant, providing support and help across different industries. Its powerful analysis and predictive capabilities will enable people to handle complex tasks and problems more efficiently, offering real-time solutions and recommendations.

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Whether in fielding queries about professional knowledge or optimising and automating business processes, generative AI will play a crucial role. It will also become the ideal companion in consumption, leisure and entertainment.

Through personalised recommendation systems and intelligent assistant features, generative AI will gain a deep understanding of user preferences and needs, providing customised product and service suggestions. Whether in shopping, travel, music, film and television entertainment or social interaction, generative AI will enhance our experiences.

Generative AI has become an irreversible trend, penetrating our daily lives in profound ways. Governments must pay attention to ethical, privacy and copyright issues to ensure the positive development of the technology. Otherwise, there is a risk of unintended consequences, allowing malicious individuals to exploit generative AI’s capabilities.

Wong Kam-fai is a legislative councillor, associate dean (external affairs) of the Faculty of Engineering at Chinese University and vice-president of the Hong Kong Professionals And Senior Executives Association



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