Amidst Controversy, Google Has a New Secret Project to Help it Dominate the AI Landscape

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Welcome to this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief… as the race to revolutionize artificial intelligence (AI) remains afoot, several leading tech giants are encountering new challenges along the way. In our analysis, we’ll be looking at why 1) a breakthrough AI chatbot once poised for success is nearing bankruptcy, 2) how Google is responding to challenges the AI industry is facing with its latest secret project, and 3) why AI companies are getting legal pushback for their “do as I say, not as I do” policies.

Quote of the Week

“A computer will do what you tell it to do, but that may be much different from what you had in mind.” 

– Joseph Weizenbaum

Latest News: This week in reporting from The Debrief includes a recent breakthrough that may enable the development of ultra-realistic virtual reality and Fermilab researchers who say they are getting close to revealing a fifth force of nature. You’ll find links to all our latest stories at the end of this newsletter.

Podcasts: In podcasts from The Debrief, over on The Micah Hanks Program this week, I take a look at the secretive classified world of antigravity research. Meanwhile on the latest installment of The Debrief Weekly Report, MJ Banias and Stephanie Gerk look at research into tiny robots that can be sent inside the body to perform laser surgery. You can subscribe to all of The Debrief’s podcasts, including audio editions of Rebelliously Curious, by heading over to our Podcasts Page. 

Video News: On the latest episode of Rebelliously Curious, Chrissy Newton sits down with Marcus Capone, a veteran Navy SEAL who returned home after 13 years of active combat duty to face his own battle with mental health and eventually turned to (PAT) Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy. Meanwhile, on the most recent episode of Ask Dr. Chance, Dr Glenn answers his listener’s questions about artificial intelligence. You can get other great content from The Debrief on our official YouTube Channel.

With that all behind us, let’s take a look at some of the latest major developments in the tech industry’s battle for AI dominance and why some companies are now pushing back.

Hard Times for AI Chatbots

As the race to revolutionize artificial intelligence wears on, things aren’t looking exceptionally good for a company that emerged last year as one of the most promising potential industry leaders.

With the launch of ChatGPT on November 30, 2022, by OpenAI, the future seemed bright for the research company and its new large language model-based chatbot. With the ability to comprehend and generate responses to questions from its users in real-time, ChatGPT’s ability to produce information on everything from general requests to grocery lists, travel planning, recipes, and even author songs and poetry, captured the public’s fascination.

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As of this week, however, ChatGPT is reportedly nearing bankruptcy amidst reports that the chatbot’s responses, rather than improving over time, have actually worsened… not a desirable outcome from the estimated $700,000 required to run the tool, and the resulting $540 million loss OpenAI has incurred since its debut.

Although it’s entirely possible that ChatGPT could make a comeback, OpenAI’s rivals at Google seem intent on establishing themselves as the dominant force in the development of AI… and it has a new secret project in the works that it plans to use to help achieve this.

Google and the Quest to Dominate the AI Landscape

Enter Google’s secretive new project Gemini, which is expected to combine the functionality of Large Language Models (LLMs) with AI image generation that has also recently seen increases in popularity. Blending these technologies will naturally allow Gemini to do with images what ChatGPT does with text through the creation of contextual imagery based on user queries.

Led by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Gemini is reportedly being designed with much more in mind than merely the generation of text and imagery. Google says Gemini will also be able to control software based on commands issued by users, and not only through text entry but also by voice alone.

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All this, in addition to the analysis of data and other capabilities, makes Gemini much more than just another AI chatbot. Gemini will likely be integrated into several other Google products, such as Google Docs and other resources the company provides, and of course, for a price that users can pay through Google Cloud.

With the “secret” development of Gemini, along with its rollout earlier this year of ChatGPT rival Bard, Workspace Duet AI, and now the powerful new Search Generative Experience available as a Google App and as a Chrome addon, all indications seem to point to Google positioning itself as leaders in terms of wherever AI is going… but that doesn’t mean the company hasn’t also received some setbacks in recent days.

Google Gets Pushback Over Scraping Sites to Train AI

In early July, Google updated the portion of its privacy policy outlining services where data may be collected and used, adding its new AI Bard, as well as Cloud AI, alongside existing language that featured Google Translate.

Just days later, on July 12, a class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in California by Clarkson Law Firm, stating that Google had “been secretly stealing everything ever created and shared on the internet by hundreds of millions of Americans” to train its new AI programs like Bard, relying on “creative and copywritten works” and “virtually the entirety of our digital footprint,” to do so. Clarkson Law Firm had previously filed a suit against ChatGPT based on similar allegations.

However, Google hadn’t been the only company that decided to update its terms of service considering recent AI-related developments. Notably, The New York Times made additions to its own terms of service page earlier this month with a note prohibiting the use of its content from being used for the development of “any software program, including, but not limited to, training a machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI) system.”

Since The New York Times took its stance against the use of its content for such purposes, other companies have followed suit. In fact, as far back as April, Elon Musk taunted Microsoft, the primary backer of OpenAI, with a Tweet on his newly rebranded social media platform, X, with a post that read “lawsuit time.”

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Adding to the controversy, some have characterized Google’s willingness to use others’ content in such ways while taking a firm stance against its own data being used to train AI models as a hypocritical “do as I say, not as I do” approach.

“These companies are not dumb,” wrote Alistair Barr for Insider. “They know that quality content is vital for training new AI models.”

Yet Google, as well as its AI competitors OpenAI and Anthropic, have been criticized for their position on the use of their own content, which, in likelihood, is not against the law and constitutes fair use. However, that remains to be decided, and the pushback by companies like The New York Times and others signals that even amidst the impressive strides Google has been making toward leading the AI revolution, the search engine giant is likely to encounter a few hurdles along the way, much like its competitors have.

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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