The high-profile AI chatbot ChatGPT from OpenAI is such a threat to Google’s core business, The New York Times reported Friday, that the company’s co-founders are getting back in touch with the search giant.
In November, the startup OpenAI released ChatGPT. Within a few days, more than a million people were asking it all kinds of questions and making all kinds of requests. The artificial intelligence system has been trained on a lot of text from the internet. It can now answer questions, write essays, write computer programs, and come up with all kinds of information.
ChatGPT can sound like it knows what it’s talking about, but it’s not always right, and you can’t tell where it gets its answers. It’s impressive enough to go viral on the internet, and it’s useful enough that Google is said to have responded to ChatGPT with a “code red.”
The Times reported that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are now looking into the issue at the request of Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet. In 2019, they had mostly stopped running the day-to-day business.
Google has a similar AI system called PaLM, but it isn’t available to the public yet. It was also one of the first AI programs to use “transformer” technology, which is at the core of big language models like PaLM and OpenAI’s ChatGPT foundation, GPT-3. In a blog post this week, the company summed up some of the ways Google uses AI, from suggesting email replies to putting ads in the right places.
Google didn’t say anything about what the co-founders did or what they thought about ChatGPT. But company spokeswoman Lily Lin said the company cares about making sure AI is used safely.
“We think AI is a foundational and transformative technology that is very useful for people, businesses, and communities,” Lin said. “As our AI Principles explain, we need to think about how these innovations can affect society as a whole.” “We’re still testing our AI internally to make sure it’s useful and safe, and we’re looking forward to sharing more of our experiences with the outside world soon.”
Gene Munster, an analyst at Loup Ventures, thinks that ChatGPT, GPT-3, and large language models are a threat to Google in the market.
“These LLMs could be built into the back end of many of the tech services we use in the future,” Munster said in a report on Friday. “This is a result that could be bad for Google in the long run.”
He thought, though, that Google would be able to handle the threat in the end. Google has “more than enough money to fund investments that will lead to a ChatGPT competitor” because it has four services with more than a billion users each and makes $60 billion a year from searches.