Google AI Limits Election Answers, Spotify Tests Music Videos: What’s Next in Tech News?






Tech News Today: Google Restricts AI Answers on Elections, Spotify Trials Music Videos

Tech News Today: Google Restricts AI Answers on Elections, Spotify Trials Music Videos

This could be the year when artificial intelligence makes its mark on politics in a big way—and Google looks to be worried about being blamed for the possible consequences. With more than 75 countries holding elections this year, voters might turn to AI for answers about the candidates—which brings all the attendant risks of “hallucinations” (incorrect or misleading results that AI models generate) or biased responses. Alphabet’s Google is trying to get ahead of the issue by limiting the answers its Gemini AI will give in relation to elections.

“Out of an abundance of caution on such an important topic, we have begun to roll out restrictions on the types of election-related queries for which Gemini will return responses,” Google wrote in a blog post from its team in India on Tuesday. While the post related to the coming Indian elections, the restrictions appear to be in force more widely. Gemini declined to answer requests put by Barron’s for it to summarize the policies of President Joe Biden and Donald Trump—a request that rival chatbot ChatGPT seemed happy to fulfill. Google is likely to be feeling particularly vulnerable after the backlash around Gemini’s treatment of race and ethnicity when asked to generate images of people, which forced it to take the functionality offline.

Safety first looks like a wise principle, but Google has lost out in the AI race by being cautious before. Speaking at Mobile World Congress recently, Alphabet’s AI chief Demis Hassabis attributed OpenAI’s success in rolling out ChatGPT ahead of similar products from Google to its “Silicon Valley growth mentality” and willingness to put out a system with flaws to the general public. Google replaced its famous “Don’t be evil” motto with “do the right thing” when it reorganized under Alphabet in 2015. In the age of corporate AI, that’s a complicated instruction.

Spotify Wants to Be the New MTV

Music videos are still a thing. At least according to Spotify, which said Wednesday that it would trial full-length music videos for its premium subscribers in 11 markets. Music videos might not have the same cultural resonance as in their 1980s MTV heyday, but they can still drive traffic. Almost all the most-watched videos on YouTube are music videos, although they are available there free. For Spotify, this is a relatively low-cost initiative to see if videos are an incentive for further subscriber growth and to fill an obvious gap in its offering.

However, American subscribers will have to wait as the videos are being rolled out initially in the U.K., Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Kenya. With the feud between TikTok and Universal Music Group highlighting the complications for musicians of relying on social media for exposure, maybe the time is ripe for the music video to take center stage again.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@barrons.com