Google has been under growing pressure from ChatGPT and Microsoft in the past few months, and it seems to have finally snapped – the search giant has announced an AI-themed event for February 8, and said its chatbot rival will launch very soon.
The ‘Google presents: Live from Paris’ (opens in new tab) event will be livestreamed at 8.30am ET / 1.30pm GMT (which works out as 12.30 AEST for those in Australia). And Google says the theme will be “reimagining how people search for, explore and interact with information”, through “Search, Maps and beyond”.
While that description doesn’t specifically reference the kind of AI chatbot technology we’ve seen from ChatGPT, the event tallies with some bold statements made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the company’s recent earnings call (opens in new tab).
On the call, Pichai said that “AI is the most profound technology we are working on today” and that AI is reaching an “inflection point”. This means Google is preparing to publicly join the fray by opening up LaMDA and PaLM – which are, like ChatGPT, large language model (or LLM) algorithms that are trained on huge datasets.
While Google has demoed this technology before, alongside Deepmind’s Sparrow (as seen in the screenshot above), Pichai said that “in the coming weeks and months, we’ll make these language models available, starting with LaMDA so that people can engage directly with them”.
Given that Google has been a driving force behind AI development, including the tech that underpins ChatGPT, this could be a potentially huge moment.
Exactly how Google will make LaMDA available to the public isn’t yet clear. We also don’t know for sure if, at next week’s ‘Live from Paris’ event, it will demo its AI masterplan, or simply announce incremental improvements to the likes of Maps, Search and Google Lens.
Either way, the event is shaping up to be a must-watch for tech fans who want to see how AI is going to re-shape the tools that most of us use every day.
Analysis: The battle for AI supremacy heats up
Google’s response to ChatGPT and Microsoft’s swift integration of the technology in apps like Teams Premium certainly isn’t knee-jerk – the search giant called itself an “AI-first company” as far back as 2017, and has published ground-breaking research in the field since then.
But the viral success of ChatGPT, which recently became the fastest-growing app of all time (opens in new tab), has undoubtedly put Google under pressure to fast-track some of its AI technology into the public sphere. And it’s going to be fascinating to see exactly what it announces in “the coming few months”, as promised by Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Microsoft made another multi-billion investment in ChatGPT earlier this month and is already melding its talents, which include advanced text generation, with its own AI-powered Project Turing (opens in new tab) tools. The results could transform the way we use apps like Microsoft Office.
Google will likely use the technology in a similar way, cautiously baking it into apps like Google Maps, Google Lens, Gmail, Search, and more to start with. The reason why Google has been seemingly slower to release its AI tools into the wild is because it has more to lose from the nascent tech’s considerable downsides, like inaccuracy and even a potential for fueling cyber-attacks.
But LaMDA is theoretically a more polished technology than ChatGPT, as it’s been fine-tuned by human AI trainers before release – and it seems Google is confident that it’s now safe enough for us to interact with. Exactly what forms that interaction will take is something we’ll likely hear more about at its event next week, and at Google I/O 2023 in May.