As per some reports Google is getting ready for competing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT by letting people “interact directly” with its “newest, most powerful language models as a companion to search,” according to CEO Sundar Pichai. It would be a big move for the company — as systems like ChatGPT and DALL-E have gone viral, Google — a company that’s been flexing its AI muscles for years and producing tons of research in the area — hasn’t had a public answer to those sorts of tools, some of which could threaten its core businesses.
During an earnings call today, Pichai talked about how the company plans to “unlock the incredible opportunities AI enables,” saying the tech is “reach[ing] an inflection point.” He also says that it was Google’s earlier AI research that helped spawn “the generative AI applications you’re starting to see today.”
A Lot Coming Up
As for its own applications, Pichai says the company was planning on doing a lot within the next few months, something it’s been preparing for since “early last year.” Google says the first model people will be able to engage directly with is LaMDA, the company’s conversational AI model, though it’s not exactly clear what form that will take.
It won’t be the first time anyone outside the company is getting to use it — The Verge’s own Victoria Song got to demo a writing app powered by it last year, and Google’s AI Test Kitchen allowed people to interact with it on a limited basis after they got through a waitlist. But there was never any moment where tons of Twitter users were posting examples of what they got Google’s AI model to generate, and people haven’t been asking it to write intros for their podcasts or essays for their homework.
The Replacement is out of Question
Google competing ChatGPT is not a new information for many. However, with some people talking about how you could use ChatGPT to replace Google search (side note: that does not currently work very well for many reasons), I’m sure the company has been feeling the pressure to do something with all the AI tech it has. In fact, Google reportedly has employees testing its own AI-powered chatbot rivals to ChatGPT right now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was doing something similar with its currently internal tools for turning text into images or even video.
It seems like Google might still be taking it slow and won’t be giving people carte blanche access to do whatever they want. (No publically traded company wants to make another Tay.) Pichai says it’s perusing AI with a “deep sense of responsibility.” Later in the call, he said that Google would be the company would be “careful” and would be launching AI “more as labs features in certain cases, beta features in certain cases, and just slowly scaling up from there.”
Still, he says he believes the market is ready for these kinds of products. Whether society may be is an open question, but we’ve clearly seen that people want to play around with AI — and it seems like Google is ready to make its own version available.