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Sunday, June 18, 2023

AI Boom Takes Silicon Valley on a Manic Quest, Will it Change the World?


The AI Boom Has Silicon Valley on Another Manic Quest to Change the World

By BusinessWeek,June 15, 2023

It's a frenzy not seen since the dot-com fever of the late 1990s. Tech CEOs are reorienting their companies toward AI; venture capitalists are reevaluating their portfolios and piling into AI startups.

Credit: Lulu Lin/BusinessWeek

In late May, 300 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, journalists and assorted self-described thought leaders crammed into Shack15, a stylish social club on the second floor of San Francisco's Ferry Building, where most spoke in soaring terms about what they saw as the next gold rush. The gathering, dubbed a "Generative AI Meeting of the Minds," would've been unthinkable during the pandemic and improbable earlier this year, when the city's main obsessions often seemed to be car break-ins and retail store closures. The night had the feel of a religious revival. "Something is happening, something is cracking open," said the evening's host, futurist writer Peter Leyden, in the first of many upbeat speeches. Just as everyone "was talking about the demise of San Francisco, how everyone is leaving the Bay Area, how no one wants to live in California, how we are in doom loops—that's exactly the time you know the place is right about to burst open in reinvention," Leyden said to applause. The speech, the whole event, captured the feeling coursing through tech circles these days: Silicon Valley is back.

Only a few months ago, layoffs, cratering share prices and startup valuations, and the fallout from scandals at FTX and Silicon Valley Bank dominated headlines. It felt as if the entire industry was primed for a long retreat after years of parody and techlash. Now the talk of the town is artificial intelligence: chatbots such as ChatGPT and Google's Bard, image creation tools Dall-E and Midjourney. There's hope that tech might inflict yet another Jobsian dent in the universe.

From BusinessWeek

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