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Google is set to unveil an AI chatbot to rival the widely successful ChatGPT, marking its first major move to challenge OpenAI’s dominion over the emerging AI market.
The chatbot, dubbed “Apprentice Bard”, will reportedly be announced in a 40-minute event on Wednesday, February 8, in which Google plans to reveal how it is “re-imagining how people search for, explore and interact with information.”
"Join us to learn how we're opening up greater access to information for people everywhere, through Search, Maps, and beyond," the tech giant said in an invitation for the event seen by the Verge.
The announcement comes days after Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that the firm had been developing a chatbot technology using the “newest, most powerful language models as a companion to search,” which he says will be publicly available in a few weeks.
In an earnings call shared on YouTube, Pichai said Google was planning to “unlock the incredible opportunities AI enables,” believing the technology has reached an “inflection point.”
He also expressed his belief that Google’s previous AI research and development helped bring about “the generative AI applications you’re starting to see today.”
— Hang Jiang (@hjian42) February 4, 2023
Its biggest competitor, Microsoft, recently invested over 10 billion into ChatGPT and reportedly plans to integrate the technology into its search engine, Bing.
This would enable Bing – a long second to Google – to offer more intelligent responses to user search queries, something which Google has struggled with for decades.
Slow and steady wins the race
Prior to the sudden explosion of ChatGPT, Google has historically moved hesitantly with AI developments due to the risks associated with its implementation.
The development of its large language model LaMDA, for instance, was kept under wraps, for years. It wasn’t until one of the engineers working on the project went public with claims that LaMDA was “sentient,” that the technology finally got the world’s attention.
Other developments, like the company’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) which reduces the number of searches it takes to answer a question, have been working behind the scenes to improve search without the user’s knowledge.
Google has been slow in releasing Large Language Models to the public. However, things started to change after ChatGPT. What's your take on this? Is this more responsible from Google's side?
— Ameen Altajer (@ameenaltajer) February 4, 2023
In a detailed paper posted last month, Google justified its “slower approach” to AI-based innovations, noting the need for AI to be introduced gradually so that it can be fully accepted by society.
“We believe that getting AI right – which to us involves innovating and delivering widely accessible benefits to people and society, while mitigating its risks — must be a collective effort involving us and others,” Google’s executives wrote.
“It is critical that we collectively earn public trust if AI is to deliver on its potential for people and society,” they added.
A $400 million investment
The recent explosion of ChatGPT appears to have transformed Google’s quiet approach to the development of generative AI systems over the past few months.
According to Los Angeles Times, the firm is investing almost $400 million into artificial intelligence (AI) startup Anthropic to aid in the development of its ChatGPT rival.
Anthropic confirmed the partnership in its blog but did not include details of the search giant’s massive investment.
“We're partnering with Google Cloud to support the next phase of Anthropic, where we're going to deploy our AI systems to a larger set of people,” Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei wrote.
“We are eager to use the Google Cloud infrastructure to build reliable, interpretable, and steerable AI systems. This partnership with Google Cloud will let us build a more robust AI platform,” Amodei continued.
Google is rumored to be launching a ChatGPT competitor. When do you think Google will shutdown their ChatGPT competitor? 6 months after launch? 1 year?
— Andrew White ⏣🧪 (@andrewwhite01) February 5, 2023
Google has also been working internally in recent weeks and turning its attention to AI developments and moving its teams to aid in the development and launch of AI products.
Last week, it revealed an AI-wired music generator that could generate music from basic text prompts and descriptions, called AudioLM, sharing dozens of samples in a move that differs greatly from its quiet approach of the past.
As Google works AT full steam ahead on new AI technologies, it is likely that as well as its new chatbot, the world may also get a look at new developments at Google’s I/O annual developer conference, which is expected to take place in a couple of months.