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Google’s Big AI Announcements

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Google just announced some huge AI updates…

But some within the company say Google is making ethical lapses in their rush to compete with OpenAI and others.

First, the updates. There were three significant ones this week:

  • Google announced that its AI research team called Brain would merge with DeepMind, the company acquired by Google in 2014 and headed by AI leader Demis Hassabis. The merged entity will be called Google DeepMind.
  • It was also revealed that Google is working on a project titled “Magi.” It involves Google reinventing its core search engine from the ground up to be an AI-first product, as well as adding more AI features to search in the short-term. Details are light at the moment, but the New York Times has confirmed some AI features will roll out in the US this year and that ads will remain a part of AI-powered search results.
  • Last but not least, Google announced Bard has been updated with new features to help you code. Bard can now generate code and help you debug code.

As these updates rolled out, reporting from Bloomberg revealed that some Google employees think the company is making ethical lapses by rushing development of AI tools. The criticism appeared to center around Bard.

Some employees expressed concerns around the accuracy of Bard’s responses. Others cited responses that offered downright dangerous advice. (In one example, Bard routinely provided responses on how to land a plane that would cause a crash.)

I spoke to Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Roetzer about what the updates mean for marketers and business leaders in Episode 44 of the Marketing AI Show.

Here's what to know...

  1. DeepMind and Brain could be an unhappy merger. “As someone who has watched this space closely for the last decade, I don’t see how this works,” says Roetzer. Demis Hassabis at DeepMind has been very clear on his mission for that organization. It is designed to solve intelligence and save humanity by working on huge issues like protein folding and scientific progress. It doesn’t seem like Hassabis has any public interest in saving Google’s ad business or building a better search engine. That could lead to misalignment as the two outfits merge.
  2. But don’t bet against Google... There’s no question that they’ve been caught off-guard by competitive pressures from OpenAI, Microsoft, and others. And it’s likely they face serious shareholder pressure to release AI technology. But regardless of possible missteps, the company still remains one of a handful of AI leaders on the planet, aggregating talent, technology infrastructure, and data in a way few can match. “They may have woken a sleeping giant,” says Roetzer. We’re already seeing accelerated product innovation in the form of the recent Magi announcements and Bard’s ability to code.
  3. Yet winning now comes with ethical costs. It’s now wartime. Google’s world is now an aggressive, winner-take-all environment, not the cushy competitive landscape they’ve enjoyed in the past. It’s clear the company is being forced by market pressures to evolve its approach and may have to do things differently now than they would 12 months ago, says Roetzer. “Do they now have the luxury of adhering to all those same ethical guidelines they used to? It doesn’t appear that way.” Agree or disagree with their approach, it seems Google is shifting what they’re willing to do to win.

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