Does Google Need a Better Snorkel and a Deeper Mind?

January 31, 2023

Recession, Sillycon Valley meltdown, and a disaffected workforce? Gloomy, right? Consider this paragraph from “ChatGPT Pro Is Coming. Here’s How You Can Join the Waitlist”:

ChatGPT has probably the fastest-growing user base ever, with a staggering million-plus users signing up a week after its release. That’s four times faster than Dall-E2, which took a month to reach a million users. Microsoft is already mulling an investment of $10 billion, bringing the total valuation of OpenAI, the startup behind ChatGPT, to $29 billion.

A more telling example of the PR coup Microsoft and OpenAI have achieved is the existence of this write up in Sportskeeda. Imagine Sportskeeda publishing “How Google’s AI Tool Sparrow Is Looking to Kill ChatGPT.” Google’s marketing has lured Sportskeeda to help make Google’s case. Impressive.

More blue sky reality, the next big thing has arrived, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is visible. High school and college students have embraced ChatGPT. Lawyers find it unlawyerlike. Google finds it a bit of a problem.

How do I know?

Navigate to the Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch and sufficiently technologically challenged to use humans to write stories. Consider this one: “Google’s AI Now Plays Catch-Up to Newbies.” Imagine the joy of the remaining Google marketing types when news of a big story circulated. Now consider the disappointment when the Googlers read:

… Google employees began asking whether the company had missed a chance to attract users. During a company-wide meeting in December [2022], Mr. Dean [a Google senior wizard] Google had to move slower than startups because people place a high degree o trust in the company’s products, and current chatbots had issues with accuracy, said people who heard the remarks.

Okay, in that month what happened to ChatGPT? It became big and dominated the regular news and the high-tech news streams. What has Google accomplished:

  1. Promises that more than 20 products and services are coming? Is that a forward looking statement or vaporware?
  2. Google rolls over to the EU as it gets ready for the US probe of its modest advertising business
  3. New applications of Dall-E, ChatGPT, and variants clog the trendy online service Product Hunt.

Net net: Jeff Dean, the champion of recipes and Chubby (a Google technology known to few in my experience) is explaining what I call “to be” innovations. Due to Google’s size and customer base, these to-be smart software powered solutions may overwhelm the ChatGPT thing. Google’s snorkels will deliver life giving oxygen to the the beastie. The DeepMind crew will welcome their colleagues from Mountain View and roll out something that does not require a PhD in genetics to understand.

Yep, to be or not to be. That is a question for the Google.

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2023


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