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By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

November 6, 2023 | 3 min read

Bleach pancakes, anyone?

In a new video spot, data governance software platform Transcend highlights the dangers of rogue AI chatbots – and unregulated AI more broadly – for both brand and individual reputations.

The ad, created by brand consultancy firm Red & Co to promote Transcend’s new Pathfinder AI governance software, features the voice of a fictitious business executive describing ’Breakfast Yumbot,’ an AI chatbot created by his brand, whose sole mandate is to generate recipes for breakfast dishes. Everything seems to be going smoothly until the chatbot unexpectedly adds bleach to the list of items needed to make pancakes.

Amid the sound of a siren, the narrator’s voice becomes alarmed as he begins to speculate on the disastrous outcomes of the chatbot’s error: “Disaster! Lawsuit! Resign on TV! Everyone sees! Even weird second cousin!” Eventually, the narrator’s voice transitions from a tone of sheer panic to one of remorseful resignation: “Gambled with uncertainty! Never should have risked it!”

The Yumbot disaster portrayed in the new ad is a fictional example of what’s known in the AI industry as ’hallucination,’ a phenomenon that causes large language models (LLMs) to confidently assert inaccurate information. (The spot was based on an actual incident from earlier this year in which a New Zealand supermarket chain’s branded AI chatbot, which was supposed to generate creative meal ideas, instead provided a user with a recipe for chlorine gas.)

Hallucination has been known to afflict even the most powerful LLMs, such as OpenAI’s GPT-4 (which powers both ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing search engine) and Google’s LaMDA (which powers the company’s Bard AI chatbot).

Transcend is positioning its new video spot as a lighthearted cautionary tale about the dangers posed by an unregulated AI industry – the implication being, apparently, that hallucination would happen less frequently if the government stepped in to police the private AI sector.

The lack of governmental oversight over AI has become a growing concern among many experts over the past year. It was spotlighted last week with the signing of President Biden’s new executive order on AI and the UK government’s publication of the Bletchley Declaration. Last week also marked the International Association of Privacy Professional’s (IAPP) first-ever AI Governance Global conference.

The brand deliberately chose to unveil its new campaign in the midst of these initiatives. “This makes Pathfinder, Transcend’s first AI product, part of this big conversation,” says Mira Kaddoura, Red & Co’s founder and executive creative director.

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