Greetings, folks. We had to push our AMA with Nate (our CTO) back a week due to circumstances outside of our control. That’s just how things go sometimes. You can register for his new talk on March 29 with this link. It will be at 2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT. Local Viking and Local Brand Manager will be introducing some automated auditing functionality for our users and Nate will go over it with you. Try to join us if you have the time. Everyone in attendance will be welcome to ask questions about anything they like when the presentation is over.
We were having a tough time with our internet last week. There was “a lot of noise on the line” according to a technician who came by this morning. Anyway, our inability to maintain a connection forced us to delay a rundown of the major generative AI projects that are currently up and running.
We should have found a way to get it done last Friday. This is a lot more work today than it would’ve been a week ago. A ton of new projects by major companies got released in the meantime. Four big ones came out on Tuesday alone. Google’s Bard LLM (large language model) saw a limited release (more on that later). NVIDIA launched Picasso, a set of cloud tools for generative AI. Adobe released a beta for Firefly, its AI image suite. Bing Image Creator came out as well.
We spent way too much time trying to come up with a March Madness joke, but they were all worse than corny. The point is, these things are coming out left and right and there’s no sign of anything slowing down. On top of that, existing projects are seeing constant improvements. OpenAI gave ChatGPT a huge upgrade yesterday by introducing plugins. Instead of spending the next few paragraphs explaining all of the implications (but here’s a big one: you can now connect it to the internet instead of dealing with an information blackout for anything that has happened since 2021), we’re going to link you to this video where you can watch someone named Matt Wolfe enthusiastically explain how game-changing this is.
Firefly is probably the most useful of the released-on-Tuesday bunch. It can do all kinds of useful stuff. There are plenty of generative AIs that can convert text prompts into images, but Adobe takes things a step further by allowing you to edit the images it comes up with. It can convert hand drawn sketches and text prompts into vector graphics. The four capabilities you see in the image above this paragraph are only a few of many more. It can combine photos and upscale. As far as image tools go, Firefly is in a league of its own (so far). It’s only in beta, but it is worth taking a look at.
We had a chance to play around with Bard this week. Despite the fact that we’ve poked some fun at it for clearly being rushed, we genuinely wanted to like it. Our software platform is built around Google and our lives will be easier if it continues to dominate online search. The truth is that Bard isn’t very good. Not compared to ChatGPT, anyway. It’s just worse at everything. There really isn’t much more to say.
Don’t take our word for it. If you’re in the United States or United Kingdom, you can try it for yourself.
There’s a few takeaways before we move on. First, generative AI is progressing at a dizzying pace. So many projects are getting announced that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that all of them are the result of substantial investments and large groups of people putting in a lot of hard work. We certainly can’t do them all justice in a forum like the Local Viking newsletter. Devoting only a sentence or paragraph to this week’s releases has already made this email longer than the ones we normally write. We mainly want to point out that it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the fact that there’s a proud team of people behind every headline you see about a new generative AI.
The next big-picture bullet point is that digital marketers won’t be part of the first wave of replaced-by-AI layoffs. That is a dangerous prediction to make, especially given how quickly and dramatically the online landscape shifts nowadays, but none of these flashy AI projects are even broaching the subject of local search. When they inevitably do, it just means that we will need to make some adjustments to the services we offer. Marketing will continue to be a full time job that most companies will outsource.
On the other hand, your VAs would be justified if they’re feeling nervous about their job prospects. On that happy note, let’s quickly touch on Twitter and TikTok before we call it quits for the week.
If you’re anything like us, you’re under the impression that Twitter has been a pit of chaos since Elon Musk’s takeover. The past year has been a rollercoaster of confusion regarding whether or not the acquisition would happen and the direction of the company since it did. The only thing that isn’t in doubt is Elon’s stance on free speech. You can tell he loves it by the way he hoards it all for himself.
In any event, Twitter is improbably inching towards profitability. The platform was losing millions of dollars per day when Musk purchased it in October. The Wall Street Journal released a video yesterday that projects Twitter to break even next quarter and be cash flow positive after that. Who’da thunk it?
The other big news is about TikTok. The dust hasn’t settled yet, so there’s not much to report for now aside from the fact that its CEO got grilled by the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday. Like the Bloomberg video we linked to last week mentioned, TikTok is running out of ways to avoid being banned (in its current form) in the United States. This week’s congressional hearings aren’t making that prognosis any less true. We will pay close attention to the actions of the federal government and keep all of you informed if/when anything happens.
That’s all for now. Have an awesome weekend. We’d be delighted to see you at Nate’s AMA on Wednesday, but we’ll have another newsletter for you next Friday either way. Take care.