ChatGPT, the high-profile AI chatbot from OpenAI, is such a serious threat to Google’s core business that the company’s co-founders have re-engaged with the search giant, The New York Times reported on Friday.
The OpenAI startup debuted ChatGPT in November, and within days, more than a million people began prompting it with a huge array of questions and requests. The artificial intelligence system is trained on vast amounts of text on the internet and can answer questions, write essays, write computer programs and generate any kind of information.
ChatGPT may sound authoritative, but it’s not always right, and you can’t tell where it gets its answers from. However, it’s impressive enough to be a viral hit on the Internet, and useful enough that Google reportedly announced a “code red” response to ChatGPT.
Now, at the behest of Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are looking into the problem, the Times reports. They were largely out of day-to-day operational roles in 2019.
Google has a competing AI technology called PaLM, but has not made this AI system available for public use. And it’s an AI pioneer that invented the “transformer” technology that underpins major language models like PaLM and OpenAI’s ChatGPT foundation, GPT-3. In a blog post this week, the company outlined several areas where Google is using AI, for everything from suggesting email responses to serving ads.
Google has not commented on the co-founders’ moves or its position on ChatGPT. But spokeswoman Lily Lin said ensuring the safe use of AI was important to the company.
“We believe AI is a foundational and transformative technology that is incredibly useful for individuals, businesses and communities, and as our AI Principles outline, we need to consider the wider societal impacts these innovations can have,” Lin said . “We continue to test our AI technology internally to make sure it’s useful and safe, and we look forward to sharing more experiences externally soon.”
Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster sees ChatGPT, GPT-3 and the big language models as a competitive threat to Google.
“One possible future is that these LLMs could be embedded in the back end of many of the technology services we use,” Munster said in a report Friday. “This is the result that could hurt Google in the long run.”
Ultimately, though, Google should be able to withstand the threat, he predicted. With four services, each with more than a billion users, and $60 billion in annual operating search revenue, Google has “more than enough money to fund investments that will lead to a competitor to ChatGPT.”
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