Google missed a golden opportunity to lead the way with its ChatGPT-like chatbot tool two years ago, but an overly cautious attitude from those at the top kept the company from launching it, according to a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday.
The two Google researchers who created the powerful conversational AI technology reportedly told colleagues at the time that their innovation could revolutionize how people search the Internet and work with computers.
The couple, who were named by the magazine as Daniel de Freitas and Noam Chezier, wanted Google to make a public demo available and integrate it into the Google Assistant virtual assistant, but the executives weren’t convinced, claiming that the technology didn’t meet the company’s standards for “safety and fairness” systems. Artificial intelligence, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper.
Two years later, Microsoft did what Google failed to do when it supported ChatGPT’s creator OpenAI, released a public beta, and integrated elements of it into its Bing search engine.
At the same time, Microsoft enjoyed — and still does — all the resulting publicity associated with its bold decision to make the AI tool widely available. Meanwhile, Google is now playing catch-up with its own version, called Bard, which the magazine says is based to some extent on the work of De Freitas and Shazeer.
Google unveiled Bard last month and said it continues to test it before making it more widely available. Similar to ChatGPT, it answers queries in a conversational manner. Although the use of the technology goes beyond search engines, Google fears that if the AI format proves popular for search, Microsoft may be able to wrest a large chunk of the lucrative advertising market from Google’s popular search product.
Despite the missed opportunity, Google and its parent company, Alphabet, have huge resources to ensure Bard’s rapid development, giving it a fighting chance to compete effectively with anything Microsoft produces.
As for De Freitas and Shazeer, they were apparently so frustrated by Google’s reluctance to seize their business opportunity that they left the company in 2021.
To see how ChatGPT and Bard currently stack up, see this Digital Trends article comparing the two chatbots.
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