In 2017, Sundar Pichai, one year into his tenure as CEO at Google announced at a Google Developers conference that Google is an A.I. first company.
At the time, the statement was perceived as a response to Amazon’s Alexa assistant, which beat Google in voice search to the market.
Six years later, Google finds itself once again in a reactive position: being beaten to the market in A.I. search. But this time, there is far more urgency and alarm. Google has been the clear leader in Search. As of October 2022, Google has enjoyed a remarkable hold on mobile search, with more than 93% market share, according to Statista. At the same time, Bing, owned by Microsoft, commanded just 1.45% of market share.
Upon the widespread release of ChatGPT, panic ensued at Google. According to a report by the New York Times, Pichai has “upended the work of numerous groups inside the company to respond to the threat that ChatGPT poses.”
A.I. in Search poses more than a competitive problem, it could upend a business model. No one yet knows how Paid Search could best integrate with chat-based A.I. As one industry expert stated, “If Google gives you the perfect answer to each query, you won’t click on any ads.”
According to Reuters, executives at Microsoft plan to allow paid links with responses to search results within Bing, but how that can be executed remains to be seen. The same applies to Google but given how heavily the company relies on its ads business, it’s a logical next step.
Google’s immediate, and arguably hasty response to ChatGPT is called Bard.
The experimental service “draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses”, Pichai writes. It is currently open to just testers, but feeling the pressure of competition, Google previewed it with advertisers.
A 9% dip in Alphabet share price – nearly $100 billion in market share loss, after the chatbot shared inaccurate information during the demo.
The outcome has become increasingly representative of what we’re learning about A.I. chat technology: it can be confidently wrong, and at times, even dangerous.
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