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Press Review - May 2024

Margaux Montagner
Published on
What's been happening in the brand tech world this month? The EU’s AI Act could have an impact beyond the Union’s borders; in England and Wales, creating and sharing sexually explicit deepfakes will become a criminal offense; the marketing world is experiencing a significant shift, carried by three major trends; and Microsoft’s latest investment in a Persian Gulf-based A.I. company is seen by some as the latest move in the US/China tech “Cold War.”

A global impact for the EU’s AI Act?

The European Parliament has passed the AI Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation aiming to address the risks associated with artificial intelligence or AI. This act bans AI applications that pose unacceptable risks to EU citizens' safety, livelihoods, and rights, such as cognitive behavioral manipulation and social scoring. It also imposes strict regulations on “high-risk” AI applications in sectors like health, infrastructure, and justice. The law will affect businesses operating within the EU, including major tech companies that provide AI products to European consumers. 

This legislation raises questions about the global influence of EU regulations known as the "Brussels effect; indeed, the AI Act is expected to raise awareness and scrutiny of AI applications in various fields, potentially leading to global changes as did the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the past. However, the global norm-setting role of the AI Act is not guaranteed, as other countries like China are also actively regulating AI and setting standards, and some countries might simply choose to prioritize growth over safety.

More details at Chatham House.

Creating sexually explicit deepfakes will become criminalized in England and Wales

The UK government has announced that creating of sexually explicit "deepfake" images without consent will become a criminal offense in England and Wales. Deepfakes are digitally altered images or videos created using AI to superimpose one person's face onto another's body, often used to create fake pornographic content featuring celebrities or public figures. This new law will result in a criminal record and a fine on anyone who creates such images, regardless of whether they intended to distribute them. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated that if the deepfake is shared, the creator could also face imprisonment. 

While the sharing of deepfakes was already made illegal last year under the Online Safety Act passed, this new law specifically targets the creation of such content. However, legal experts like Professor Clare McGlynn warn that the law might have limitations, as it requires proof of intent to cause distress, potentially creating loopholes. The law will cover images of adults, with existing laws already addressing child imagery. Victims' Minister Laura Farris emphasized that the law sends a clear message against the creation of deepfake sexual images, which she described as immoral and misogynistic. Both victims and political figures, including Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, have expressed support for the law, emphasizing the need for rigorous enforcement to protect individuals' privacy and dignity.

Read more on BBC News

The three trends reshaping marketing and measurement

The marketing world is experiencing significant, rapid shifts as consumers demand more control over their interactions with brands, leading to a need for overhauling traditional marketing strategies. Brands are facing various challenges including reimagining the marketing funnel, achieving holistic cross-platform measurement, and the need for speed in action due to consumers' real-time information consumption.

In an article introducing her company's solutions to these issues, Kristin MacGregor, a former Google and YouTube executive and now chief commercial officer at Smartly, pinpoints three major trends that are reshaping the industry: 

  • The dynamic consumer journey requiring holistic measurement across platforms, 
  • The migration of ad dollars to social media due to its effectiveness in creating a multi-touchpoint experience, 
  • The increasing importance of privacy and creative content as traditional cookie-based measurement methods become obsolete.

Read her full interview at the Drum.

Microsoft to invest $1.5 billion in Emirati A.I. Deal

Microsoft has announced a significant $1.5 billion investment in G42, an AI powerhouse based in the United Arab Emirates. This partnership allows G42 to sell Microsoft's AI services that utilize the advanced chips essential for training AI models. In exchange, G42 will adopt Microsoft's cloud services and comply with a security agreement that includes removing Chinese equipment from its infrastructure. The deal reflects the U.S. government's concern over safeguarding AI intellectual property, aiming to realign G42's affiliations away from China and towards the U.S.

This agreement is seen by some as part of the Biden administration's strategy to counter China's technological influence in the Persian Gulf, where AI investment is burgeoning, and beyond. Despite the UAE's close ties with the U.S., which include significant arms purchases, the country has been deepening its military and economic relationships with China. The U.S. is particularly wary of the spread of AI technology that China could exploit, especially after a cybersecurity incident involving Microsoft. The deal with G42 thus imposes strict controls on the use of its technology, including audits and restrictions on sharing with other governments or for surveillance purposes. G42 also committed to sever certain Chinese connections, such as using Huawei telecom equipment.

Find more details at the New York Times.

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