It is estimated that ChatGPT has up to 100 million monthly active users. Pressure is mounting on Google to respond - and it looks like its answer is coming soon.
According to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Google will launch new AI products for search and direct interaction with users, new APIs for developers and partners, as well as for business applications (Workspace) and its own cloud platform.
Pichai specifically mentions the two major language models, PaLM (Pathways Language Model) and LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), which he describes as the largest and most advanced AI models in the industry.
According to Pichai, both will be released in the coming weeks and months. The first model to appear will be ChatGPT's competitor, LaMDA, which allows for direct human interaction.
In addition, Google plans to integrate its language models into Google Search "very soon," according to Pichai. The AI systems will complement existing search in "experimental and innovative" ways.
On February 8 at 8:30 ET, Google will host an event on search, maps and more. The event will last 40 minutes and will be broadcast on YouTube. The invitation (via The Verge) says Google wants to show at the event how AI is changing the way people search for, explore and interact with information and how AI can make search "more natural and intuitive than ever before."
Google is reportedly already internally testing a chatbot
According to CNBC, Google is internally testing the "Apprentice Bard" chatbot, which is based on the LaMDA model and is said to be similar to ChatGPT. You type in a question or text and get a direct answer.
Unlike ChatGPT, Apprentice Bard will be able to respond to current requests. ChatGPT's memory only goes back to about 2021, when the GPT 3.5 training data ends. LaMDA is also said to be better at mathematical tasks than ChatGPT.
CNBC also reports that Google is experimenting with alternative search and search results pages. In one version, a language model will suggest questions below the search box that could lead to an AI dialog. The chat element would replace the current "I'm feeling lucky" search.
When you type in a question, AI-generated answers appear in a separate box, which in turn can lead to more questions and answers that fit the topic. Below this chatbot element, traditional search queries will appear as usual. Whether this implementation will actually happen is still up in the air.
The New York Times previously reported that Google teams are planning up to 20 new AI products and a chatbot search.
According to an estimate based on Similiarweb data, about 100 million people used ChatGPT in January, which would make the AI interface the fastest growing online platform ever.
Of course, ChatGPT is not in direct competition with Google, as information search is only one aspect of it. Nevertheless, some believe that the future of search could be found in ChatGPT or a ChatGPT-like application.
Even if this search thesis turns out to be wrong: ChatGPT's high user numbers will shake up other tech companies, because with Microsoft's generous support, an underdog is occupying a potential growth horizon. Anyone who buys from OpenAI now will have to be lured out of their ecosystem at a higher cost.
Meta, for example, also held out the prospect of ChatGPT-like generative AI products at its investor call. The social company is working on the Blenderbot, an experimental version of which was released as open source last summer.
"Generative AI is an extremely exciting new area with so many different applications. And one of my goals for Meta is to build on our research to become a leader in generative AI in addition to our leading work in recommendation AI [...] So one of the big interesting challenges here also is going to be how do we scale this and make this work more efficient so way we can bring it to a much larger user base. But I think once we do that, there are going to be a number of very exciting use cases."
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai opened the earnings call by commenting on the current state of the AI market, which he sees as an opportunity. Pichai noted Google's long history in AI development and the breakthrough of the Transformer model, a technology that dates back to a June 2017 Google research paper.
As early as six years ago, he announced that Google was an AI-focused company, Pichai said. "AI is the most profound technology we are working on today."