Google is not in a rush to catch up with the recent transformations in generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) despite the exciting offerings from competitors such as OpenAI.
Since OpenAI launched its AI chatbot, ChatGPT, in November 2022, tech giants like Microsoft have hastened their steps to capitalize on the AI wave. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, however, has opined that Google will take a more unhurried path.
Pichai asserted that the arrival of ChatGPT was a fascinating moment as it demonstrated an increased public readiness to engage with AI. He also stated his belief that Google’s own AI technology needed further maturation before being incorporated within Google’s line of products.
“It was an exciting moment because we are building that underlying technology and deploying it across our products,” Pichai explained in an interview with Wired. “But we are still being deliberate where we need to be. The technology arc is long, and I feel very comfortable about where we are.”
Microsoft, a longstanding competitor of Google, launched a large language model integrated with its search engine Bing before Google, creating concern in Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, taunted Google by saying, “I want people to know we made Google dance”.
To this, Pichaid retorted:
In cricket, there’s a saying that you let the bat do the talking. We have been innovating on AI, and also applying AI to search, every year. There’s always been competition. We’ve seen Alexa launch and Siri launch—this is not new. Around the end of last year, my thoughts were, how can we bring generative AI to search in a way that makes sense for our users? That’s what I’m thinking about, and that’s what will matter in the long run.
When asked if Google regretted not launching a product like GPT earlier than OpenAI and Microsoft, Pichai said: “It’s not fully clear to me that it might have worked out as well. We could do more after people had seen how it works. It really won’t matter in the next five to 10 years.”
Meanwhile, in December 2022 Google’s management called a code red from fears that OpenAI’s chatbot could potentially usurp Google’s search engine. Since then, Google has surged in its efforts to develop and launch its own generative AI tools, although Pichai’s current remarks suggest a divergence from this urgency.
As for now, there’s no immediate pressure for Google to plunge full-scale into the AI chatbot race. It seems they are happy to watch and learn, seeking maturity in their technology before implementation.