Google CEO Sundar Pichai had one job to do at I/O 2023: convince us that OpenAI is not going to eat Google’s lunch. Did he do it?
The company announced that it is sticking its updated AI model into Search, Workspace, Maps, and a bunch of other apps. Below is a quick summary of yesterday’s AI-based announcements; it seems comprehensive, but considering what happened when Google first announced Bard, they have a lot of ground to cover.
First, Google is enhancing its AI chatbot Bard by introducing new features and extending its availability to 180 countries. This update includes support for Japanese and Korean languages, seamless text exporting to Google Docs and Gmail, visual search, and a dark mode. Google also plans to integrate Adobe’s AI image generation technology (Firefly) and third-party web services (like Instacart and OpenTable).
To improve its general answers and usability, Google upgraded Bard with the PaLM 2 language model. The enhanced Bard excels at handling coding queries and offers improved code citations, a versatile export button, and the new dark mode.
Bard will also become more visually engaging, with image analysis capabilities and image-based query results. These visual results will resemble typical Google image search outputs.
The addition of Adobe’s Firefly is one of many third-party “tools” connected to Bard, making Google competitive with rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, who have already integrated AI image generation and chatbots with the broader web.
Despite these substantial upgrades, the core purpose of Bard remains ambiguous. While Google insists that Bard is not a search engine replacement, users may still be inclined to treat it as such. Big questions include:
What will happen to Google when AI chatbots and autonomous agents reduce human web and search traffic? How will people respond to ads or commercial messaging in chatbots? Is there a commercial model for AI agents interacting with other AI agents? If there is a programmatic way to incentivize a bot for a transaction or conversion, what impact will that have on the rest of the digital advertising ecosystem?
I could go on and on, but let’s leave it with this question: how will Alphabet shareholders feel about a 25% reduction in Google’s search revenue? I think the impact will be at least that big.
To understand why I would make such a claim, I’ve added a section about autonomous agents to my free online course, Generative AI for Executives. We update this course weekly so that it always features the latest information, tools, and techniques.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.