Welcome to The Week in Generative AI, a weekly column for marketers from Quad Insights that quickly sums up need-to-know developments surrounding this rapidly evolving technology.

FTC opens inquiry into AI companies

On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission announced a comprehensive investigation into the AI sector, CNBC’s Hayden Field reports. The inquiry targets giants in the space including Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Anthropic and OpenAI. As Field notes, “By invoking its authority to conduct a so-called 6(b) study — named for Section 6(b) of the FTC Act — the regulator can look into the AI companies separately from its law enforcement arm and make civil investigative demands.”

The takeaway: The FTC’s move is a significant escalation of the federal government’s scrutiny of AI — part of a growing global trend toward governments contemplating meaningful regulation of the rapidly evolving technology.

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Taylor Swift AI photo controversy

AI-generated explicit images of Taylor Swift went viral on X (formerly Twitter) this week, attracting over 45 million views before the originating account was suspended. The images gained traction despite X’s strict policies against such content, The Verge’s Jess Weatherbed reports, and the situation escalated as the phrase “Taylor Swift AI” trended, further spreading the images. “In response, fans have responded by flooding hashtags used to circulate the images with messages that instead promote real clips of Swift performing to hide the explicit fakes,” Weatherbed notes.

The takeaway: Generative AI got a fresh black eye with this nightmare scenario for the global pop star — and now millions of so-called Swifties (devoted fans of Taylor Swift) have a new, deeply personal reason to think of the technology as downright creepy.

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Google adds AI to education tools, Chrome and video editing

Google this week released a slew of AI features, including educational tools, add-ons for its Chrome browser and an AI video generator. Ivan Mehta writes in TechCrunch that the latest school-focused resources include “classroom management, accessibility and AI-powered features for creating questions and lesson plans,” while Engadget’s Malak Saleh notes that Chrome is getting upgraded with “a tab organizer, a writing assistant that helps draft text and the option to customize the artwork and themes throughout the browser.”

But it’s Lumiere, Google’s new video generator, that’s been generating the most buzz. The tool outputs five-second videos from prompt types that include text and still images, while also performing text-based video edits. Ars Technica’s Benj Edwards writes that based on early documentation and “judging by Google’s examples (and not having used it ourselves), Lumiere appears to surpass … other AI video generation models.”

The takeaway: Google’s Lumiere is seen as a significant advancement in AI-generated video, while the company’s education-related updates further embed it in classrooms — and Chrome is increasingly taking on Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing.

Related coverage:

Further reading

AI in commerce:

AI advancements:

AI x tools:

AI x culture:

AI x politics:

Thanks for reading. We’ll see you next week.

If you’d like to catch up on prior installments of this column, start by heading to our last recap: “The Week in Generative AI: January 19, 2024”