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A robot plays the piano at the Apsara Conference, a cloud computing and artificial intelligence conference, in China, on Oct. 19, 2021. While China revamps its rulebook for tech, the European Union is thrashing out its own regulatory framework to rein in AI but has yet to pass the finish line.
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The artificial intelligence craze has consumed Wall Street in 2023.

The madness found its roots in November of last year, when OpenAI launched the now infamous large-language model (LLM) ChatGPT. The tool touts some impressive capabilities, and spurred an AI race with rival Google announcing it’s own chat box – Bard AI – only a few months later.

But the enthusiasm went even further. Investors started flocking to stocks that could provide ample AI exposure, with names like C3.AI, chipmaker Nvidia, and even Tesla, posting impressive gains despite an overall tense macroeconomic environment.

Just like “blockchain” and “dotcom” before it, A.I. has become the buzzword companies want to grab a piece of.

Now some with little to no historical ties to artificial intelligence have touted the technology on conference calls to analysts and investors.

Supermarket chain Kroger touted itself as having a “rich history as a technology leader,” and chief executive officer Rodney McMullen cited this as a reason for the company is poised to take advantage of the rise of artificial intelligence. McMullen specifically pointed to how AI could help streamline customer surveys and help Kroger take the data and implement it into stores at a more speedy clip.

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Shares of the supermarket giant have ticked up just above 4% from the start of the year.

“We also believe robust, accurate and diverse first-party data is critical to maximizing the impact of innovation and data science and AI,” McMullen told investors on the company’s June 15 earnings call. “As a result, Kroger is well-positioned to successfully adopt these innovations and deliver a better customer and associate experience.”

Similarly, Tyson Foods, the second-largest global producer of chicken, beef and pork, thinks the company can benefit from the explosion of investment and excitement over artificial intelligence. However, chief executive Donnie King didn’t specify how AI would play into the company’s future, or what specific applications the technology would be applied to in the Tyson business.

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Tyson Foods stock has declined more than 20% from January.

“…And we continue to build our digital capabilities, operating at scale with digitally-enabled standard operating procedures and utilizing data, automation, and AI tech for decision-making,” King told investors on the company’s May 8 earnings call.

For heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment producer Johnson Controls, artificial intelligence can help the company ride a choppy macroeconomic environment, it proposes. Chief executive officer George Oliver did not elaborate last month on how AI would play a role in the company’s future beyond mentioning AI as a potentially helpful tool when asked about a decline in orders.

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Shares have gained 2.2% from January.

“…AI is going to continue to allow us to be able to expand services no matter what the [economic] cycle is that we ultimately experience,” Oliver told investors on the company’s May 5 earnings call.

The promise of artificial intelligence has kept stocks higher, as Wall Street heads into the second half of the year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, for comparison, has added roughly 16% from January.

But while the potential of AI upends a plethora of industries and threatens to automate hundreds of millions of jobs, investors will ultimately decide over time who are the legitimate beneficiaries and who is just trying to ride the hype.

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