Colin’s Note: Today, we’re handing the reins over to our friends at Palm Beach Research Group with an insight from analyst Sam Volkering.
It’s been about a week since pop star Taylor Swift made headlines due to someone circulating explicit and violent AI-generated “deepfakes” of her around X – formerly Twitter.
This prompted X to block users from searching Swift’s name on the platform while moderators removed the images.
The scandal has sparked a lot of conversation about the responsible use of artificial intelligence… how – or if – it should be regulated… And what this means for the future of AI.
You can get the details and Sam’s take below… Plus, what you can do as larger powers begin to change the landscape of AI.
She has more than 280 million Instagram followers… More than 51 million subscribers to her YouTube channel… And more than 70 billion streams of her music on Spotify.
She’s had the most successful and lucrative concert run in American history with her Eras Tour – which some estimate will bank more than $4 billion.
On Sunday night, she topped it off by winning her 13th Grammy Award, including an unprecedented fourth Album of the Year award… And she’s already announced she’s releasing her next album in April this year.
All that has me out of breath. So to see her in a skybox at (seemingly) every Kansas City Chiefs game, I’m somewhat in awe.
The reason she’s at the Chiefs games is because she’s dating star tight end Travis Kelce. The NFL and the Chiefs, well, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.
Since Swift made her first appearance at a Chiefs game in September 2023…
Kelce’s No. 87 jersey has seen a 400% increase in sales.
The Chiefs windbreaker Swift has worn to games is sold out.
The Chiefs Instagram follower count rose by 200,000 in week three of the season.
Kelce’s Instagram follower count has risen by 2.5 million.
In the two weeks after her first appearance at a game, Chiefs home game tickets rose 235% in average daily sales.
Regular-season games have seen a 9% increase in female viewership. (It’s now at its highest since they started recording that stat.)
And as Billboard explains, “Compared with the first three Sunday Night Football broadcasts of the season, ratings grew 53% among girls aged 12 to 17, 24% for women aged 18 to 24, and 34% for women over 35.”
But the real value, according to a report from Apex Marketing Group, comes via the predicted $331.5 million in value Swift has generated for the Chiefs and the NFL.
And I’ll even admit, I was a little disappointed at the lack of cutaway shots during the Ravens vs. Chiefs AFC Championship game.
(I was even more disappointed the Detroit Lions lost, as social media was salivating at the prospect of an “Eminem vs. Taylor Swift” Super Bowl. Eminem, the Grammy award-winning rapper, grew up in Detroit.)
Such is the impact of Swift that Super Bowl LVIII is trending online as you’d expect… along with Swift.
However, I’m not just here to outline the financial impact that Swift is having on the NFL and the Chiefs.
You see, there’s a darker side to Swift’s notably bigger presence in the heartland of American sports. A side that unearths the underbelly of the internet, meme culture… and the biggest technological development of our time.
And because of what’s happening with Swift right now, we could be at the beginning of the end of artificial intelligence (AI) as we know it today.
From Photoshop to AI, the Problem Is the Same
In the last week, several images of Swift went viral on social media.
These explicit and malicious images of Swift were created by generative AI software. One image was seen more than 47 million times before it was removed.
There’s no need to go into more detail about the images than that.
However, due to the public presence she has, shortly after these images began to go viral, social media platforms began to implement strict controls over the ability to search and find these images.
X, the supposed “free speech” platform owned by Elon Musk, put an outright block on any search for “Taylor Swift.” It has since restored that ability, but the pictures have been filtered off the platform now.
This became such a whirlwind that it’s already raised the ire of those in Congress. They’re now debating the implementation of harsher and stricter “deepfake” laws to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
The concept of deepfakes is nothing new. A deepfake is a doctored image or video that portrays someone (typically famous), often in uncompromising positions.
It used to be the realm of sophisticated photo editing software, and those capable of using it. But now with the rise in generative AI, it’s relatively easy to circumvent AI content filters and create deepfakes like those that were done of Swift.
Of course, Swift was by no means the first victim of a deepfake, nor likely (and unfortunately) the last.
Even just a few weeks ago, a deepfake robocall of President Joe Biden was circulating telling people to not vote in the New Hampshire primaries.
Regardless of which side of the political fence you sit on, messing with democracy in such a way is a big no-no.
And in a more humorous but still deeply worrying trend, in October last year, actor Tom Hanks was in an advertisement for a dental company. The only problem was it wasn’t Hanks – it was an AI avatar of him, completely unauthorized.
Even I’ve used generative AI to deepfake myself!
I wanted to see how good (or bad) it was. In July last year, I created the following video.
You can watch it by clicking here or on the image below.
That’s me. That’s my voice. But it’s also not me.
I uploaded a short video of myself and did a minute-long voice recording. The AI did the rest. All I had to do was upload the text – everything else is AI-generated.
Ok, I’ll be the first to admit, it does look a little weird. And as the AI platform explained to me, it (at the time, at least) did “struggle with beards.”
And the voice is a bit robotic in tone. I’m much more expressive than that.
However, considering that’s over seven months ago, and the speed at which generative AI is heading, it’s a sign of what’s coming.
Putting Your Money Where Their Mouths Are
Here’s the bottom line: AI is going to be a part of our future. There’s nothing wildly provocative about that statement.
How it becomes a part of our future is very much in question, though.
My take is simple: What’s happening to Taylor Swift will change laws. There will be strict penalties in place for the malicious use of AI.
How we know and understand AI has changed radically in the last year. And the depravity of some has already taken it in a direction it ought not go.
It’s as good a reason as the government needs to wield its legislative wand over the entire industry.
And it will.
I expect that lawmakers will do everything in their power to control access to AI platforms.
In much the same way that a bank must implement KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (anti-money laundering) processes, I expect AI platforms will be required by law to do the same.
As the AI revolution marches on, and as it permeates through every industry on Earth, this level of control is an inevitable outcome.
It’s an outcome you don’t have to like or agree with. I certainly don’t.
But it’s an outcome that presents a handful of opportunities.
If former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s making half a million bucks on Nvidia calls – a trade that took advantage of the AI boom – you can bet she (and others) aren’t going to want to stop that gravy train.
Skeptics might think Big Tech can’t get any bigger. But the way I see it, lawmakers have their own vested interests to keep the status quo as is.
And thanks to Swift, they’ve got a chance to get a foothold on the control of AI.
That leaves a couple options for regular folks without a congressional inside track:
Embrace and learn how to use AI to your advantage.
Start putting your money where their mouths are.
Big Tech isn’t becoming “Small Tech” any time soon. And as it benefits most from the rise of AI, it continues to look like a tidy place to build a portfolio position.
Until next time,
Analyst, Palm Beach Daily
P.S. After revolutionizing online payment processing (PayPal), space exploration (SpaceX), and the auto industry (Tesla)… Elon Musk is getting ready to do it again with his new AI venture.
This could be bigger than PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla – combined. So click here to watch a shocking two-minute live demonstration of Musk’s AI.