Google, the company behind cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning projects like Tensor Flow, Magenta, and Imagen, is reportedly getting desperate to showcase its AI chops. After OpenAI wowed the collective world’s imagination with generative AI tools like Dall-E and ChatGPT while archrival Microsoft kept pouring billions and getting strategic control over OpenAI’s toys, Google was feeling unprecedented competitive heat. Now, the company has decided to spring into action, and that means stuffing AI features into its most popular products.
According to a report from Bloomberg, an internal code red message has told employees that “all of its most important products — those with more than a billion users — must incorporate generative AI within months.” The AI push has already resulted in some public announcements. To combat the rising threat of a ChatGPT-powered Bing search browser, Google recently detailed its own version called Bard. The company has also promised such tools for creators on the cash cow platform that is YouTube, allowing them to virtually change outfits in videos.
The AI race to consumer tools
Google’s desperation is odd, yet interesting. The company’s AI research team is a behemoth in the field, churning out some of the most-cited groundbreaking papers in the past decade. According to The Wall Street Journal, a pair of Google employees actually pushed for releasing a ChatGPT-like chatbot and even integrating it with Google Assistant over two years, but their requests were denied considering AI safety and ethics standards. The concerns were not unfounded, as even stunningly advanced models like ChatGPT have a bias and factual accuracy problem.
However, it’s not just cutting-edge AI tools like LaMDA that it needs to compete with the likes of Microsoft, but how well the underlying tech is integrated into mainstream products like Gmail, Search, and Maps that have billions of users. Microsoft already has a lead with tools like GitHub Copilot that uses OpenAI’s Codex engine, Bing has been injected with ChatGPT fuel, and more AI magic is in the pipeline for tools like Team as well as the bread-and-butter Office tools like Outlook and Excel, among others.