The recent events that have unfolded in the AI space seem straight out of The Hunger Games universe. Google’s ‘Live in Paris’ seemed like a reactionary panic after OpenAI, backed by rival Microsoft, rolled out ChatGPT which—shortly after its release—was widely deemed the ‘Google Killer’. The panic didn’t end there.
Microsoft raised the bar with a surprise event, where it unveiled the all new Bing Search, Edge web browser and Bing Chat powered by the next generation of model that is apparently more powerful than OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GPT-3.5.
Result: The event was an expensive mistake, which cost Google more than $100 billion in market value as the stocks fell by nearly 8%. Users have argued that ChatGPT makes such mistakes frequently as well but they were hoping that Google might have better built-in fact checking.
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Biggest ‘Event’ Fail Ever
The live Youtube stream of Google’s event can be easily called a fiasco, as it was set on private right after it ended. The event felt hastily arranged and unrehearsed while the majority of the presenters seemed a bit nervous. Before announcing the updates, Prabhakar Raghavan, senior VP at Google, where he takes care of Google Search, mistakenly mentioned Search’s anniversary. Furthermore, Liz Reid, VP of Engineering for Search, couldn’t present a demo of the new Lens feature due to her phone being misplaced. The company is on the back foot as several blunders unravelled in the span of two days.
A couple of days prior to the event, Google had announced ‘Bard’ backed by the infamous ‘LaMDA’ as a contender in the game. In an ad posted on Twitter, Bard gave an incorrect response.
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A Google spokesperson commented, “This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, which we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program. We’ll combine external feedback with our internal testing to ensure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.”
The most interesting thing about the Parisian event was that they are going to release the APIs of LaMDA in the upcoming months. As the saying goes, ‘Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive’—with Microsoft going all-in, the last thing Google wants to do is gatekeep their technology. The planned event felt like Google’s regular updates which were surely interesting but the company did not respond to the jab.
Thanks to Microsoft
The so-called planned event by Google turned into a nightmare, but Microsoft’s surprise event turned out to be perfectly planned. Ahead of Google’s ‘AI in Paris’ event, Microsoft announced that it is ready to cross swords in the AI battle. The company’s CEO Satya Nadella said that “the race starts today” in the search engine space. He further said, “We’re going to move fast,” in a surprise event at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington.
Microsoft launched an AI-enabled Bing homepage called the ‘Copilot for the Web,’ featuring a chat box that can provide a range of answers beyond factual questions. In addition, the company revamped its search engine and the Edge web browser. The software giant also introduced the ‘Prometheus Model’ to enhance Microsoft’s engagement with OpenAI’s technology by leveraging its web knowledge. The model will provide relevant answers with a better understanding of the web search index.
Wait, there is more
This is not the first time Google has made expensive blunders. A racial error was noted in 2015, a few months after Google launched Photos that could automatically tag uploaded pictures. The AI-powered product mistakenly labelled a black couple as “gorillas” and was brought to widespread attention by a New York-based software developer who was one of the people in the photos. As a result, Google received heavy criticism on social media and, acknowledging the sensitivity of the mistake, issued an apology.
But Google is not the only one.
In 2019, Elon Musk rolled out Tesla’s much anticipated ‘Cybertruck’ and it certainly did not go as planned. While the angular steel vehicle looked like it could survive anything, a steel ball managed to crack the windows during the live demonstration to prove they were shatterproof. Musk looked on as the ball smashed the window. “It didn’t go through, that is the plus side. . . room for improvement,’ Musk said. Also, who can forget the comical moment when Bill Gates tried to show off voice recognition in MS Vista in 2008.
The bottom line is that these goof-ups occur regularly but, this time, Google is caught off guard by Microsoft’s AI announcement deciding to speed its timeline. Since Google has been researching AI for a long time, it probably has more AI projects in the pipeline that may be released in Google I/O 2023. But, for now, Microsoft is making the real headway.