Gemini: Google ups the ante in the AI ​​race with technology trained to behave like humans

Google took its next leap into artificial intelligence on Wednesday with the launch of Project Gemini, an AI model trained to behave in human ways, which is likely to intensify the debate about the potential promises and dangers of the technology.

The rollout will happen in phases, with the less advanced versions of Gemini, called “Nano” and “Pro,” being immediately powered by Google’s AI chatbot Bard and its Pixel 8 Pro smartphone.

With the help of Gemini, Google promises that Bard will become more intuitive and better at tasks that involve planning. On the Pixel 8 Pro, Gemini will be able to quickly summarize recordings made on the device and provide automatic replies to messaging services, starting with WhatsApp, according to Google.

Gemini’s biggest advance won’t come until early next year, when its Ultra model will be used to launch “Bard Advanced,” an advanced version of the chatbot that will initially be available only to a test audience.

Initially, the artificial intelligence will only work in English worldwide, although Google executives assured reporters during a briefing that the technology would have no problem eventually diversifying into other languages.

Based on a Gemini demo for a group of reporters, Google’s “Bard Advanced” may be capable of unprecedented AI multitasking by simultaneously recognizing and understanding presentations that include text, photos and video.

Gemini will also eventually be incorporated into Google’s dominant search engine, although the timing of that transition has yet to be specified.

“This is an important milestone in the development of AI and the beginning of a new era for us at Google.” said Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google DeepMind, the AI ​​division behind Gemini. Google beat out other suitors, including Facebook parent Meta, to acquire London-based DeepMind almost a decade ago and has since merged it with its Brain division to focus on developing Gemini.

The tech’s problem-solving skills are touted by Google as particularly adept at math and physics, fueling hopes among AI optimists that it could lead to scientific discoveries that improve people’s lives.

But the opposite side of the AI ​​debate worries that the technology will eventually eclipse human intelligence, leading to the loss of millions of jobs and perhaps even more destructive behavior, such as spreading disinformation or triggering the deployment of nuclear weapons .

“We approach this work boldly and responsibly,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google wrote in a blog post. “This means being ambitious in our research and pursuing capabilities that will bring enormous benefits to people and society, while building safeguards and working collaboratively with governments and experts to address the risks as AI becomes more capable .”

The arrival of Gemini is likely to raise the ante AI competition which has escalated over the past year with San Francisco startup OpenAI and longtime industry rival Microsoft.

Backed by the financial muscle and computing power of Microsoft, OpenAI was already deep into the development of its most advanced AI model, GPT-4, when it released the free ChatGPT tool late last year. This AI-powered chatbot shot to global fame, bringing buzz to the commercial promise of generative AI and pressuring Google to push Bard in response.

Just as Bard was arriving on the scene, OpenAI released GPT-4 in March and has since been building new capabilities aimed at consumers and business customers, including a feature introduced in November that allows the chatbot to analyze images. It is competing for business against other rival AI startups such as Anthropic and even its partner Microsoft, which has exclusive rights to OpenAI’s technology in exchange for the billions of dollars it has poured into the startup.

The alliance has so far been a boon for Microsoft, whose market value has risen more than 50% so far this year, largely on investor belief that AI will become a gold mine for the tech industry. Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, is also riding the same wave, with its market value up more than $500 billion, or about 45%, so far this year. Despite the expectations surrounding Gemini in recent months, Alphabet shares were slightly lower in trading on Wednesday.

Microsoft’s deepening involvement in OpenAI over the past year, combined with OpenAI’s more aggressive attempts to commercialize its products, has raised concerns that the nonprofit organization has strayed from its original mission to protect humanity as technology advances.

Those concerns intensified last month when OpenAI’s board suddenly fired CEO Sam Altman in controversy revolving around undisclosed trust issues. After a backlash that threatened to destroy the company and lead to a mass exodus of AI engineering talent to Microsoft, OpenAI brought Altman back as CEO and changed his board.

With the release of Gemini, OpenAI may find itself trying to prove that its technology remains smarter than Google’s.

“I’m thrilled with what it’s capable of,” Google DeepMind VP of Product Eli Collins said of Gemini.

At a virtual press conference, Google declined to share Gemini’s parameter count — one but not the only measure of the model’s complexity. A White paper released Wednesday outlined the most capable version of Gemini outperforming the GPT-4 on multiple-choice exams, elementary school math and other metrics, but acknowledged ongoing struggles to get AI models to achieve higher-level reasoning skills .

Some computer scientists see limits to how much can be done with large language models, which work by repeatedly predicting the next word in a sentence and are prone to inventing errors known as hallucinations.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in what’s called factology with Gemini. So Gemini is our best model in this regard. But it’s still, I would say, an unsolved research problem,” Collins said.

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