Google to speed up AI releases in response to ChatGPT

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Google is reportedly set to speed up its release of AI solutions in response to the launch of ChatGPT.

The New York Times claims ChatGPT set off alarm bells at Google. At the invite of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the company’s founders – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – returned for a series of meetings to review Google’s AI product strategy.

Google is one of the biggest investors in AI and has some of the most talented minds in the industry. As a result, the company is scrutinised more than most when it comes to any AI developments.

In 2020, leading AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru was fired by Google. Gebru claims she was fired over an unpublished paper and sending an email critical of the company’s practices. Numerous other AI experts at Google left following her firing.

Just two years earlier, over 4,000 Googlers signed a petition demanding that Google cease its plans to develop AI for the US military. Google withdrew from the contract but not before at least a dozen employees resigned.

With the company in the spotlight, Google has allegedly been ultra-cautious in how it develops and deploys AI.

According to a CNBC report, Pichai and Google AI Chief Jeff Dean were asked in a meeting whether ChatGPT represented a “missed opportunity” for the company. Pichai and Dean said that Google’s own models were just as capable but the company had to move “more conservatively than a small startup” because of the “reputational risk” it poses.

Microsoft has invested so heavily in OpenAI that it’s hard to consider the company a small startup anymore. The two companies have established a deep partnership and Microsoft has begun integrating OpenAI’s technologies into its own products.

Earlier this month, AI News reported that Microsoft and OpenAI are set to integrate technology from OpenAI in Bing to challenge Google’s search dominance. That appears to have been what really set off the alarm bells at Google.

Google now appears to be speeding up the reveal and deployment of its own AI solutions. To that end, the company is reportedly working to speed up the review process which checks if it’s operating ethically.

One of the first AI solutions set to debut sounds very similar to what Microsoft and OpenAI have planned for Bing.

A demo of a chatbot-enhanced Google Search is expected at the company’s annual I/O developer conference in May. The demo will prioritise “getting facts right, ensuring safety and getting rid of misinformation.”

Other AI-powered product launches expected to be shown include an image generator, a set of tools for enterprises to develop their own AI prototypes within a browser window, and an app for testing such prototypes.

Google is also said to be working on a rival to GitHub Copilot, a coding assistant powered by OpenAI’s technology. Google’s alternative is called PaLM-Coder 2 and will have a version for building smartphone apps called Colab that will be integrated into Android Studio.

Overall, Google is set to unveil more than 20 AI-powered projects this year. The announcements should calm investors who’ve criticised Google’s slow AI developments in recent years but ethicists will be concerned about the company prioritising speed over safety.

(Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash)

Relevant: OpenAI CEO: People are ‘begging to be disappointed’ about GPT-4

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