Google is building more AI into its products

OpenAI’s text robot ChatGPT has made Google search look old. But the network giant does not want to let its billion-euro business be snatched away without a fight. The AI ​​race to catch up has begun, even if users in Germany and the EU are initially left out.

In the race for artificial intelligence, Google is upgrading its services with new functions – and at the same time promising a prudent approach in order not to cause any damage. In addition to the search engine, other applications such as mail, office software and maps are to be improved with AI, announced CEO Sundar Pichai at the Google I/O developer conference.

A consequence of the cautious pace is that, for example Google’s Chat bot Bard in German, but initially neither in Germany nor in the European Union Will be available. The US company is obviously trying to clarify whether Bard is compatible with the legal framework in the European Union.

Google has been working on applications based on artificial intelligence for years, but is currently under pressure to reveal more of it. At the end of last year, the start-up OpenAI triggered a new competition in artificial intelligence when it made its chat bot ChatGPT public. The software caused a stir because it can form sentences like a human. She is trained with huge amounts of data and estimates word for word how a sentence could go on. This entails the risk that it can issue completely false information.

Google’s archrival Microsoft entered into a multi-billion dollar pact with OpenAI and is bringing AI programs into its applications across the board. Google has so far been reluctant to do so, citing responsible use of the technology and regulatory requirements.

Google wants to act responsibly

The group confirmed this course at the Google I/O. “The only way to be bold in the long run is to act responsibly from the start,” said James Manyika, who is responsible for social responsibility in the use of artificial intelligence at Google. The group sees the danger that the software could strengthen prejudices or be used for the production and dissemination of false information. To protect against this, files created with the help of artificial intelligence, for example, should be provided with metadata so that they can be recognized immediately.

Google will also only provide verified developers with software that can automatically create dubbed versions of videos, Manyika said. This is to prevent so-called deep fakes with alleged actions of real people.

At the same time, Manyika emphasized that Google decided years ago not to make interfaces for facial recognition applications publicly available. When using artificial intelligence responsibly, everyone involved must work together.

Among other things, Pichai demonstrated how software can formulate a letter for the user. He also showed how users in Google’s photo app can not only remove unwanted objects and people, but also change their own position in the picture, for example. If you write a story, the software should be able to provide suggestions for further twists in the story and automatically generated illustrations.

Innovations in Internet search

There are significant innovations in Google’s most important product – the Internet search. With the help of artificial intelligence, the search engine should be able to answer the question of which of the two nature parks is better suited for a family with children and a dog. The answers are formulated in complete sentences, as well as the usual Internet links.

When searching for a bike, in addition to advice on things like suspension, matching offers from dealers are also displayed. In addition, one could be asked about rules for hand signals when cycling in California, for example, said Google manager Cathy Edwards. “These are things that you would never have asked for in the search before.”

Google still does most of its business with ads in the Internet search environment. Most advertisers pay to have their search query links appear at the top of the screen. So far, an open question is what impact the spread of detailed answers based on artificial intelligence will have on this business model. Pichai said that Google has been working with artificial intelligence for years.

New language model as competition

Google introduced a new language model called Palm 2 for the new AI capabilities to compete against OpenAI’s GPT-4. Palm 2 can master more than 100 languages ​​and brings with it writing, programming and analysis skills. In the future, Google’s chat bot Bard will also be based on the Palm 2.

Google’s text robot, which has so far only been available for trial in the US and UK, will be available in 180 countries in English, Korean and Japanese. In the countries of the European Union, however, Bard will not be available for the time being, including Germany. However, language support for German and 39 other languages ​​will follow soon.

At the developer conference, Google also presented three devices. On the one hand, the group presented the Pixel Fold smartphone, which can be folded to the size of a small tablet, and which competes with the Samsung Galaxy Fold and similar devices from various Chinese manufacturers. Google also showed the new Pixel 7a, a slightly slimmed-down version of the previous top model, the Pixel 7 Pro.

The new Pixel Tablet also celebrated its premiere at the I/O. A special feature of the Google tablet is an additional holder with a loudspeaker, with which it can also be used as a constantly active desktop device. While the Pixel 7a is now available for 509 euros, those interested in the folding smartphone and tablet will have to wait.

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