Google to present AI-powered search features next week in live event

In brief Google has hinted it will unveil AI-powered products and features in a live event next week.

Online search and advertising are Google’s biggest sources of income. The potential that its business could be threatened by Microsoft incorporating OpenAI’s GPT-4 into the Bing search engine has raised alarm bells internally. 

Google has pulled engineers from other projects to work on building a rival AI chatbot-powered search, and CEO Sundar Pichai promised to produce results soon. “I’m excited by the AI-driven leaps we’re about to unveil in search and beyond,” Pichai said in a statement, reported by Bloomberg. 

Google’s AI model – LaMDA – will be made available “in the coming weeks and months,” and Pichai promised that people will soon be able to use language models “as a companion to search.” How AI-powered search has been incorporated Google Search, Maps, and more will be unveiled next week, according to an invite for a live event on February 8 received by The Verge. 

The presentation will reportedly reveal “the power of AI to reimagine how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need.”

No sign of Cruise and Waymo slowing down driverless cars soon

Transport officials are wary of driverless cars operating in San Francisco, but Cruise and Waymo’s fleets are logging more miles than ever.

Cruise and Waymo operate fully driverless autonomous cars in San Francisco, and have been involved in at least 92 incidents in the city over the last half of 2022.

The vehicles, with no drivers up front, have nearly run over water hoses being used by local firefighters and randomly stopped in lanes and caused traffic jams. Cruise runs a public robotaxi service covering some parts of the city at night, whereas Waymo only offers this service to select employees and their friends.

In some instances, Cruise has called for emergency services to tend to its vehicles after passengers became unresponsive, only to later find out they had fallen asleep during the ride. The San Francisco County Transportation Authorit (SFCTA) urged the California Public Utilities Commission to slow down approvals for more driverless cars to avoid more accidents on its roads.

It remains to be seen whether authorities will accept the SFCTA’s advice. Data submitted by both companies show that their vehicles continue to log increasingly more miles as they expand their driverless services in the city. 

Cruise’s robotaxis covered a total of 26,838 miles from September to November 2022, whilst Waymo’s driverless cars drove 3,057 miles over three months, The Verge reported.

Baidu’s Ernie set to rival ChatGPT

China’s search and web giant Baidu has long positioned itself as the nation’s leading purveyor of AI. If reports are accurate, it’s set to hang on to that reputation by launching its rival to ChatGPT.

Baidu already has the language model a ChatGPT rival requires: in 2021 it revealed ERNIE 3.0 Titan – a pre-training language model with 260 billion parameters.

At the time, the web kraken also “proposed a controllable learning algorithm and a credible learning algorithm to ensure the model can formulate reasonable and coherent texts.”

“The controllable learning algorithm enables the model to compose in a targeted, controllable manner, with given genre, sentiment, length, topic and keywords,” Baidu boasted, back in the day. “The credible learning algorithm trains the model to distinguish fake, synthesized language from real-world human language through a self-supervised adversarial learning framework,” the Chinese giant clarified.

Reuters last week reported that Baidu will launch an AI-powered chatbot in March 2023.

If that prediction is correct, it will be Baidu’s second big AI announcement for the year. In January it announced video content generation tools said to be capable of service as screenwriter, illustrator, editor or animator, with models ERNIE 3.0 Zeus and ERNIE-ViLG 2.0 providing the necessary data.

– Simon Sharwood

AI wining art contests

Naughty people are submitting AI-generated art to competitions and taking home top prizes.

Australian electronics retailer DigiDirect was one victim of AI, after its weekly photography competition was won by an artificial artist.

The entity that submitted the entry – an outfit called Absolutely AI that bills itself as an “artificially intelligent art studio” – fessed up after winning the prize.

A similar situation impacted game developer Bungie, which occasionally runs fan art competitions. Its most recent such effort was won by an AI.

The machines are coming to get us all. ®



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