ChatGPT Spells Trouble for the Google

January 20, 2023

The estimable New York Times published “Google Calls In Help From Larry Page and Sergey Brin for A.I. Fight.” [Note: You will find this write up behind a paywall, of course.] You may know that Google is on “Red Alert” because people are (correctly or incorrectly) talking about ChatGPT as the next big thing. Nothing is more terrifying that once being a next big thing and learning that there is another next big thing. The former next big thing is caught in a phase change; therefore, discomfort replaces comfort.

The Gray Lady states:

The re-engagement of Google’s founders, at the invitation of the company’s current chief executive, Sundar Pichai, emphasized the urgency felt among many Google executives about artificial intelligence and that chatbot, ChatGPT.

Ah, ha. Re-engagement. Messrs. Brin and Page have kept a low profile. Mr. Brin manages his social life, and Mr. Page enjoys his private island. Now bang! Those clever Backrub innovators are needed by the Google senior managers.

The Google is in action mode. I have mentioned papers by Google which explain the really super duper smart software that will be racing down the Information Superhighway. Soon. Any day now. The NYT story states:

Google now intends to unveil more than 20 new products and demonstrate a version of its search engine with chatbot features this year

And the weapon of choice? A PowerPoint type of presentation. Okay. A slide deck. the promise of great things from innovators. The hitch in the git-along is that the sometimes right, sometimes wrong ChatGPT implementations are everywhere. I pointed a major Web site operator at the You.com writing function. Those folks were excited and sent me a machine generated story, saying, “With a little editing, this is really good.” Was it good? What do I know about electric Corvettes, but these people had a Eureka moment. Look up Corvette on Google and what do you get? Ads. Use You.com and what do you get, “Something that excited a big Web site owner.”

The NYT included a quote from an expert, of course. Here’s a snippet I circled:

“This is a moment of significant vulnerability for Google,” said D. Sivakumar, a former Google research director who helped found a start-up called Tonita, which makes search technology for e-commerce companies. “ChatGPT has put a stake in the ground, saying, ‘Here’s what a compelling new search experience could look like.’” Mr. Sivakumar added that Google had overcome previous challenges and could deploy its arsenal of A.I. to stay competitive.

Notice the phrase “could deploy its arsenal of A.I. to stay competitive.” To me, this Xoogler is saying, “Oh, oh. Competition but Google could take action? Could is the guts of a PowerPoint presentation. Okay, but ChatGPT is doing. No could needed.

But the NYT article includes information that Google wants to be responsible. That’s a great idea. So was solving death or flying Loon balloons over Sri Lanka. The problem is that ChatGPT has caught the eye of Google’s arch enemy Microsoft and a platoon of business types at Davos. ChatGPT caused the NYT to write an article about two rich innovators returning like Disney executives to help out a sickly looking Mickey Mouse.

I am looking forward to watching Googzilla break free of the slime mold around its paws and responding. Time to abandon the Foosball and go, go, go.

Stephen E Arnold, January 20, 2023

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