Clash of the AI Titans

Although we are at the “one-third point” of 2023, this year could go down in history as the most memorable—and maybe controversial—where advances in technology came fast and furious. Where artificial intelligence (better known as AI) is concerned, iconic search engine Google has gotten into the act. Welcome to the clash of the AI titans.

Google takes on OpenAI

Late last year, artificial intelligence developer OpenAI made headlines with the launch of ChatGPT, which was followed up last month with GT-4. The capabilities of these platforms have been met with wonder, enthusiasm—and considerable controversy. And with Google now making its presence known in artificial intelligence, OpenAI has a formidable competitor. (Is this a good thing?)

The revolution of AI rolls on…

On Sunday, April 16, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” broadcast a feature fittingly titled “The Revolution,” which covered Google’s stepping up of its own AI-based capabilities. When asked by host Scott Pelley if society is prepared for the extreme advances of AI, and what it has in store, Sundar Pichal, CEO of Google, was of two minds…

Is society ready or not?

Because people cannot think and adapt as quickly and at the pace of the technology behind AI, Pichal believes that society is not ready. Since people have been worrying about these advances—and earlier than they have about any other technology—he notes that serious conversations about adapting to AI are happening sooner than later, which makes him feel that society is indeed ready. Regardless of whether or not society is ready, Google’s move to make a mark in AI is founded on the age-old spirit of competition…

Microsoft Versus Google

In February, when Microsoft linked its search engine to a chatbot (courtesy of OpenAI, it should be noted), Pichal and the other powers that be at Google felt compelled to increase this company’s own AI products and performance. The purpose of Google’s recently released chatbot—named Bard—is to help professionals brainstorm ideas and generate content for blogs or emails, among other tasks. (Hmmm…sounds familiar to ChatGPT, doesn’t it?)

How does Google’s Bard work?

Bard does not search the Internet as Google Search does. All answers to questions are derived from a self-contained program within its system that was self-taught! Pelley sums up Bard’s speed, versatility and dexterity as “unsettling.” (This brings to mind Kevin Roose, whose interaction with ChatGPT was defined as “scary.”) Despite the notion that chatbot Bard “appears” to be thinking, it is not self-aware, or, as the experts in the interview stated: “sentient.” This leads to the often-asked big question that many have wondered…

Will AI and humanity be able to coexist?

As the concerns of ChatGPT revolved around the scenarios of how such advanced automation could possibly be a threat to human effort, Google’s James M. Manyika voiced a similar point of view of how certain jobs will likely decline, while others will grow and change. Manyika speculates that two-thirds of these jobs will not become obsolete—but changed—with AI as a supplement. Jobs that will be disrupted are knowledge-based, from writers to architects—and even software engineers. As disruptive and all-powerful as AI—whether from OpenAI or Google—there are bugs in the systems.

Flaws?

When Bard was prompted to compose an essay on inflation, it cited five books for reference—all in a matter of seconds. As impressive as this sounds, it was discovered a few days later that these books did not exist! Bard invented the titles. In the artificial intelligence industry, this is referred to as “an error with confidence” and “hallucinations”—which Pichal admits has happened frequently. (Chalk one up for humanity.)

Scott Pelley ended this feature with a disclaimer that he stated had never before been mentioned on “60 Minutes”: “The preceding was created with 100 percent human content.”


In this showdown of mastering the world of artificial intelligence, who will win—OpenAI or Google? Both companies are experiencing achievements as well as apprehensions.

Or, looking at the bigger picture, are all of these advances in technology an example of too much, too soon?

Interestingly or ironic, a quote from William Shakespeare—often referred to as “The Bard”—fits this topic:

“The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Humanity cannot become an underling of AI, and the powers that be—at Google, OpenAI, and anywhere else—must ensure this does not happen.


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