Insider Lite Feb 2024: Hallucinations

by Dave Michels

Insider Lite is a little late this month. I was distracted by a company with a unique idea – to apply generative AI to enterprise comms. 

Ok, it’s not unique – it’s the same old. Every company is attempting to redefine enterprise comms with generative AI (in the same ways). There is very little else going on. Especially the public companies because investors demand “AI” and “disruption” returns 

It’s a global conspiracy to drive up the stock price of Nvidia – and it’s working. I bet you can’t name a company in enterprise comms that isn’t directly or indirectly increasing their consumption of Nvidia chips (I can’t).

There are quite a few problems to discuss with this AI frenzy, but in this post, I will focus on one: hallucinations. It’s that thing that makes generative AI borderline useless. There are two kinds of hallucinations: Factuality and faithfulness. Factual hallucinations are demonstrably wrong: Water boils at 30°. Concerning, but not as much as Faithfulness hallucinations. Here, the user’s instructions or context shapes the output. Generative AI works to create a logical response that, for some reason, often involves offensive and scary words. 

The enterprise comms sector (and every other sector) is going bonkers over generative AI. Bonkers isn’t strong enough. Sam Altman wants the world to spend $7T on chip manufacturing. $7T! [Insert Colbert/Stewart spit-take] One could acquire Nvidia, TSMC, Broadcom, ASML, Samsung, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, and every other viable chipmaker, designer, IP holder, and equipment vendor – and still have trillions left over. There’s no ROI because there’s no remaining money to buy the chips. 

We need to prove the tech first. Yes, the new AI does some beautiful things, but we can’t automate everything or anywhere near as much as people think. There are lots of issues, but I am sticking to hallucinations here. There’s no evidence or indication that we can stop hallucinations. Many experts believe hallucinations will never go away. 

Moment of Zen: Two notable stories from last week: 1) A judge said that company chatbots are legally binding. 2) ChatGPT4 had a bad day (sample). Makes me wonder if  Timothy Leary is outside looking in.

This is the Insider Lite, or Free TalkingPointz newsletter. The Not Free one, the Insider Report, is published the first week of each month. From the Jan Insider Report:

The Dawn of a New Epoch/Era: Fads and trends come and go, but epochs change less frequently. In terms of computing, we have gone through mainframes, minis, PCs, networked/internet, and smartphones, and generative AI appears to be next. The new tech-dominated headlines and press releases throughout 2023. There’s been a lot of hype, but as the dust starts to settle, it’s not only what we thought but something much bigger. 

The smartphone era has been great, and smartphones certainly aren’t disappearing — but neither have mainframes, minis, or PCs. Generative AI is rapidly evolving and changing everything.

Many of us thought the contact center was ground zero for generative AI. It was a reasonable conclusion. Not only did most of us learn about generative AI from a chatbot, the disruptor of choice in the contact center, but the Open AI CEO said customer service agents are a prime example of a career that will be displaced. Making matters worse, AI professionals keep talking about “AI agents.”…

The Days of Our Lives: Three new online calendars launched this month: Notion, Amie, and HEY. Notion Calendar launched with tens of millions of existing users. Each of these has some new compelling benefits in views and capabilities. 

Over the past 10 years or so, I have written multiple posts about how little innovation occurs in email and calendaring. Though the apps are critical, there’s essentially a comfortable duopoly that discourages innovation. Over the past few years, we’ve seen some new ideas in both clients and servers, but these apps remain very dumb….

Crestron Updates: I will highlight three product announcements from Crestron at ISE24. 1) Four new 1 Beyond Cameras. A 12x and 20x with PTZ or intelligent framing options, 2) an improved “preset” capability that uses AI instead of firm presets, and 3) access to room controls from a Zoom Room controller. 

CX with a Bang: VC Anand Chandrasekaran at General Catalyst hatched a new CX provider this month. The investment firm has a strategic focus on “scaled, legacy sectors where technology – and especially AI – can have an immediate, transformative effect.” The VC firm believes the Contact Center sector has been “slow to innovate.” This is based on CCaaS penetration…

Leadership of the HP Poly Division changed. Helen Sheirbon was named SVP Division President of HP Hybrid Systems and will be speaking at Enterprise Connect. Andy Rhodes is now SVP of the India …