With announcements at its developer conference I/O, Google has once again fueled the exchange of blows with rival Microsoft and ChatGPT developer Open AI, which has been going on for months. It will be a "busy year for artificial intelligence," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai, presenting the company's new major language model on stage for the first time: PaLM 2. Such language models are the basis for applications such as ChatGPT. They are trained with vast amounts of data and are therefore able to answer even complex questions at a high level. The new model should be able to do this faster, better and more efficiently, Pichai promises.
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In addition, it has new capabilities compared to its predecessor: While the current models were mostly fed primarily with English data, PaLM 2 is explicitly trained on more than 100 languages at a high level, according to Google. In this way, artificial intelligence can understand the nuances of individual languages and formulate poems and riddles. A developer explains this with an example: The German phrase "I only understand the station" would have taken previous models literally. PaLM 2 would understand the actual meaning.
Because the model was specifically trained with mathematical and other scientific content, the program also has better logic capabilities. The programming capabilities of PaLM 2 are also on a new level, Pichai promises. The new model is available in four different sizes, the smallest of which also runs on smartphones.
Google announced 25 new products and applications based on PaLM 2 at I/O. This includes Google's own AI chatbot Bard, which is finally set to pick up speed after a difficult start. Google Bard has recently secretly switched from the previous LaMDA model to PaLM 2. Google also announced that it would make Bard freely available in more than 180 countries. Previously, only select users in the United States and the United Kingdom were able to access the program. Bard now also understands Japanese and Korean, with 40 more languages to follow quickly with the help of PaLM 2. And Bard should also soon be able to process images. Answers from Bard can now be exported directly to Gmail or Google Docs.
Watermarks for AI images
Other applications such as GMail and Google Maps are also to receive new functions based on artificial intelligence. Pichai demonstrated, for example, how a program can automatically write an e-mail to refund airline tickets. New image editing software is designed to allow users to use artificial intelligence to add parts of the image that are not even visible in the original photo.
Pichai repeatedly emphasized the focus on the security of the technology in his presentation. Images created by Google AI, for example, would all have watermarks and metadata in the future that make it clear that the images were created by artificial intelligence. Pichai was also indirectly reacting to the fact that AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton left the company last week after more than ten years to warn of the risks of the technology.
The current pace of development is enormous – not only among the large American corporations. More and more freely available language models are also appearing, revealing how they work. This increases the pressure on Google and Microsoft. Pichai already pointed to the upcoming AI model "Gemini", which was developed from the ground up multimodally and "will open up completely new possibilities".
Google is thus making a new attempt to attack ChatGPT. The first attempt ended in a fiasco. At the program's initial presentation in February, Bard claimed that the James Webb Space Telescope had taken the first images of a planet outside Earth's solar system. But it didn't at all, as it quickly turned out. Google's share price promptly fell by 9 percent, and the PR damage could no longer be averted.
The code is written by the AI
The pressure on Google is high. Finally, Open AI has not been idle either, releasing GPT-4 in March, a new version of the model on which ChatGPT is based. For the first time, the model is multimodal, so it can also process images. Through its Azure cloud offering, Microsoft already offers selected industry partners access to the Open AI language models. Among others, the German company Siemens is involved. "There is a danger that Microsoft is already securing a supremacy in the use of generative AI in companies," Jörg Bienert, chairman of the board of the German AI Association, recently told the F.A.Z.
Google is now also taking countermeasures in the cloud division. Among other things, Google announced the "Codey" application at I/O for companies, which can complete code in more than 20 programming languages or even program it on its own based on natural language commands.