Google I/O 2023: Search king adds AI to answer Microsoft’s challenge

May 10 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) is rolling out more artificial intelligence to its core search product, hoping to create some of the same consumer excitement generated by Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) update of rival search engine Bing in recent months. .

At its annual I/O conference in Mountain View, California, on Wednesday, Google showed off a new version of its engine of the same name. Dubbed the Generative Search Experience, Google’s revamp can craft responses to open queries while maintaining a recognizable list of links to the web.

“We’re reimagining all of our core products, including search,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said after taking the stage at the event.

He said Google is integrating AI into search as well as products like Gmail, which can create draft messages, and Google Photos, which can make changes to images such as centering shapes and coloring in blank space.

Alphabet shares rose 4% on Wednesday. It’s up 26% so far this year, compared to an 8% rise in the S&P 500 in the same time frame.

Vice President Cathy Edwards said in an interview that American consumers will get access to the generative search experience in the coming weeks through a waiting list, a beta phase during which Google will monitor the quality, speed, and cost of search results.

Google’s foray into what’s known as generative AI comes after startup OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, the chatbot beloved in Silicon Valley that set off a furious race for funding among potential rivals. Generative AI can, using past data, generate entirely new content such as complete text, images, and program code.

OpenAI, backed by billions of dollars from Microsoft and now integrated into Bing search, has become for many the default version of generative AI, helping users prepare term papers, contracts, travel itineraries and even entire novels.

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For years, the premier gateway to the Internet, Google has found its own niche in the question since competitors have begun to exploit the technology. At stake is Google’s slice of the massive online advertising pie that research firm MAGNA estimated at $286 billion this year.

“Artificial intelligence can provide insight,” Edwards said. “But what people fundamentally want at the end of the day is to be connected to information from real people and organizations, knowing, for example, that this health information comes from the World Health Organization, or WHO.

Addressing how artificial intelligence can divulge incorrect information, Edwards said the company prioritized accuracy and cited reliable sources.

Google will also mark up the images you create with AI and make it easier for people to check the authenticity of the image.

“Google’s vision makes a strong argument that search is evolving, not fading away, and that Google is here to stay,” said Kingsley Crane, an analyst at Canaccord Genety.

What is the appropriate outfit to wear?

With built-in artificial intelligence, Google still looks and behaves like the familiar blank search bar.

But while a search for “San Francisco weather” would normally direct the user to an eight-day forecast, a query asking what outfit they should wear in the California city calls up a drawn-out response generated by artificial intelligence, according to a Reuters demonstration earlier this year. week.

The challenge of relying on such artificial intelligence, known as large language models, is the high cost. Edwards said, “We and others are working on a variety of different ways to bring cost down over time.”

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Edwards said ads will remain key. “We only get paid when there is a click.”

BARD for 180 countries

“The company shows a willingness and ability to reinvent and disrupt itself, which I feel will be positively received by investors,” said Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital Advisors.

In recent years, Google’s competitors have made their own search breakthroughs and have worked with them in products, bypassing their inventor.

ChatGPT came about after Google revealed its AI platform in 2017. The speed at which the chatbot grew — faster than any consumer app in history — encouraged Google’s often rambling gossip to get employees to speed up projects.

In February, Google announced its competing chatbot called Bard. A promotional video that month, which showed Bard incorrectly answering a question, prompted a discounted $100 billion stock slice of Google’s market capitalization.

The company said Wednesday that Bard will be multimedia like OpenAI’s GPT-4, and will make the chatbot available to people in more than 180 countries and regions.

This means that customers will be able to ask the Bard for photos, not just text messages — for example, asking the chatbot to write a comment on a photo it hands it to.

Behind Bard is also a more powerful AI model that Google announced called PaLM 2, which it said could solve tougher problems. Pichai also said that one of the PaLM 2 models is lightweight enough to run on smartphones.

In more news for I/O, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told Reuters that the division is lining up customers to test its latest technology, among them Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) and Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N).

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In addition, Google has released a new foldable Pixel smartphone that allows consumers to use the company’s artificial intelligence. To start, the phone will be priced at $1,799 and will come with a free Pixel Watch. Google also unveiled a $499 phone dubbed the Pixel 7A, available to order starting Wednesday.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dustin in San Francisco); Additional reporting by Sheela Dang. Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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