Google Bard insiders grow nervous about Microsoft’s chatbot race ahead
Google’s search business, a cash cow, has kept it at the forefront for innovation for years.The company’s wealth of profits enabled it to push the limits of possible, from self-driving cars in California to artificial intelligence (AI), for drug discovery in London.Microsoft is now challenging its innovation crown.
Microsoft claimed last Friday that ChatGPT’s newest model, an AI algorithm developed by Microsoft, was showing “sparks of intelligence” that were “strikingly similar to human-level performance.”For decades, artificial general intelligence has been the holy grail for researchers. Google is now facing another blow with the possibility that Microsoft might be the first to achieve this feat.The company is left scrambling to respond to ChatGPT’s surprise success, which was made public last November. Google executives label it a “code-red” problem, and Larry Page and Sergei Brin have returned from semi-retirement in order to meet with top AI executives to discuss a solution.ChatGPT is a threat to Google’s core business.Sachin DevDuggal, founder and CEO of UK start-up Builder.AI says that search is only as good as the way you use it. “Most people type just a few words.ChatGPT’s language model allows for a more precise search result. It can also infer the meaning of those words in a wider context.Microsoft already integrates ChatGPT into Bing’s search engine, Bing. This raises concerns that the new AI-powered search engine could challenge the Google dominance for so many decades.Last week, Google launched Bard, its own competitor to the public.
In the aftermath of Bard’s first reveal last month, Jack Krawczyk (a senior director at Google) tried to dissociate the tool from its search engine during a staff meeting.
According to CNBC, he stated that Bard was not search. He admitted, however, that he couldn’t stop people from using it as search.
It is expected that Google will soon integrate AI into search.
Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Sundar Pichai, stated last month that Search will have AI-powered features that can distill complex information.
“There is an additional effort to show how generative models will look when searching; this is not what you see.
“It’s a very early stage in this technology, and we really want right now to ensure we are focused on delivering quality.”
Bard is a large language model, which has been trained from millions of articles and millions upon millions of pages.Bard’s interface is different from Google’s search bar. Instead of users typing in a query to be returned a list with links, they deal with Bard more like a conversation.
The AI can interact with users in natural language and answer questions with chatty, colourful responses. I’m limited and won’t always do it right.
Google executives stated that Bard should be viewed as a creative tool, generating ideas or inspiration, and not as an answer to concrete questions.
“We see this as complementing search,” Zoubin Ghahramani (a Cambridge academic and Google’s head for research) says.
The product had a rough start. The bot was praised in a blog post by Google boss Pichai last month. He stated that the bot would respond to “fresh, high quality” questions from internet users. An announcement contained a suggestion prompt: “What new discoveries have I made from the James Webb Space Telescope that I can tell my nine year old about?”
Bard incorrectly answered the question.
In its answer, the AI bot incorrectly attributed a key scientific discovery to a Nasa telescope.
This error caused Alphabet, Google’s parent company, to lose 6 percent of its share price on February 8th. It was worth $120bn.Google has placed strict safeguards around Bard during its public trials in an effort to avoid embarrassing and costly slip-ups.
For example, words like “genocide” will prompt a standard answer: “I am a language model and don’t have the ability to help with that.” Also, the bot stubbornly avoids any questions regarding medicine or other health issues.
However, Bard made the same error this week when asked about James Webb’s telescope.
ChatGPT is an example of a technology that still struggles to distinguish fact from fiction.
Krawczyk claims that Google tried to “design an product where people don’t take the answers to be solely authoritative.”
Bard doesn’t provide external links with its answers, unlike Microsoft’s Bing chatbot. Experts believe that this makes it less useful and limitless.
“[Microsoft chief Executive Satya] Nadella, OpenAI [ChatGPT developer] are miles ahead of Google and their Bard endeavour for AI,” states Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.
Google already faces increasing pressure from investors and competitors.
Its digital advertising sales fell 4 percent in the last three months of 2022. This is only the second such drop in its history.
Over the past 12 months, shares have declined by 25%.
Alphabet share price decline
Line chart with 1 datapoint
The chart displays categories on the 1X axis.
The chart displays Values on the 1 Y axis. Data ranges between 0 and 0.
End of interactive chart.
In an effort to reduce costs, had to fire 12,000 “Googlers” due to tightening economic conditions.
Google, like Meta, the Facebook owner, is hopeful that AI will help them turn things around.
Yet, observers were not impressed.
Sridhar Ramaswamy (ex-Google executive, founder of Neeva internet search startup) says that Bard is a significant step backwards compared to the work done by Bing.
Ramaswamy claims that the absence of links and citations makes it an inferior product to Microsoft.
Microsoft invested billions into OpenAI after ChatGPT’s success. The start-up has been announced by Klarna, Morgan Stanley, and Stripe.
Google has tried to manage expectations through Bard. It also highlighted the limitations of the technology. However, deals have not been as readily made.
Former head of AI at Meta Meta Jerome Pesenti says that Bard “doesn’t seem to be at the level yet in terms performance.”
Insiders are becoming more nervous. Microsoft seems to be moving ahead, while Google is gaining ground. Google employees are feeling glum according to the anonymous forum Blind. One user said that ChatGPT clearly has the edge.
Bard falsely claimed that Google had already shut it down last week because it was “lacking adoption” when a member of the public inquired.
Googlers will hope this is a bug in their code and not a threatening sign.