Google appears to be getting ready to take on ChatGPT.
The company announced a search and artificial intelligence event titled “Google presents: Live from Paris,” scheduled for 8:30am on February 8.
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“We’re reimagining how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need. Join us to learn how we’re opening up greater access to information for people everywhere, through Search, Maps and beyond,” says the event’s description on YouTube.
While we don’t know whether Google actually plans to launch a new product or service during the event, there are indications that it might be the answer to OpenAI’s fast-growing artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT. A recent New York Times report claimed that Google’s parent Alphabet has signalled an internal “code red” after ChatGPT’s launch, as it considers it to be an existential threat to its search business. A few days ago, CNBC reported that Google is already testing several new AI tools, including a chatbot called “Apprentice Bard.”
As The Verge pointed out, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made some interesting comments during yesterday’s earnings call. He said that the company has big plans in AI over the next few months, and that it’s been preparing for it since early last year. Pichai stopped short of spilling the beans about what, exactly, the company plans to launch, but he did say that they’ll let people “interact directly” with its “newest, most powerful language models as a companion to search.” The first of these will be Google’s AI chatbot LaMDA, which has so far been mostly confined to Google’s own engineers and beta testers.
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The timing of Google’s “Live from Paris” event is also interesting. As 9to5Google pointed out, the event is styled similarly to Google’s annual Search On events, but those are held in the fall. Google’s I/O conference will likely take place in May, so it’s not like Google hasn’t got enough opportunities to launch new products this year. The February event comes out of the blue, and it might just be ChatGPT’s immense popularity that’s prompting Google to act fast.
Again, none of this is proof that Google will launch a public-facing product on Feb. 8, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see what the company has to say about AI and search in a world where millions of people go for answers to OpenAI’s chatbot instead of Googling them.