Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at a panel at the CEO Summit of the Americas hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on June 9, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. The CEO Summit entered its second day with a formal signing of the “International Coalition to Connect Marine Protected Areas” and a speech from US President Joe Biden. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees on Wednesday to take a few hours during the week to test the company’s artificial intelligence chat tool, Bard, as it faces criticism for leadership’s slow response to ChatGPT and rival Microsoft. .
“I know this moment is unnervingly exciting, and that’s to be expected: the underlying technology is evolving rapidly with so much potential,” Pichai wrote in a company-wide email, which was viewed by CNBC.
Pichai asked employees to dedicate two to four hours of their time to Bard, adding that the company will send more detailed instructions next week. He reminded staff that Google hasn’t always been the first to launch a product, but that hasn’t hindered its ability to win.
“Some of our most successful products didn’t get to market first,” Pichai wrote. “They gained momentum because they solved important user needs and were based on deep technical insights.”
There were tons of search engines before Google hit the market in 1996, yet almost all of them disappeared as Google came to dominate the industry. In mobile, Google didn’t introduce Android until years after the BlackBerry came along, and it also followed companies like Palm. Now Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
Yet Google parent Alphabet was slammed by investors last week after the company was overshadowed by Microsoft’s announcement of a ChatGPT-integrated Bing search engine. Google unveiled its conversation technology Bard, but a series of missteps surrounding the hasty announcement sent its share price down nearly 9%.
At the time, Pichai issued a rallying cry asking “every Googler to help shape Bard and contribute through a special company-wide dog food,” referring to the practice of using his own product before launch. Employees criticized Pichai for the mishaps, internally describing the rollout as “rushed”, “failed” and “comically short-sighted”.
Pichai’s latest email to employees further stated that “this is going to be a long journey for everyone, across the field.”
“The most important thing we can do right now is focus on building a great product and developing it responsibly,” he wrote. In December, shortly after OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public, Google executives warned to be intentional when introducing AI search tools because the company has far more “reputational risk” and moves more “conservatively” than a small startup.
Pichai said Wednesday that the company has thousands of external and internal people testing Bard’s answers “for quality, security and grounding in real-world information.”
“AI has been through many winters and springs,” Pichai wrote. “And now it’s blooming again.” He said it’s time to “take up the challenge and keep repeating.”
“Channel the energy and excitement of the moment into our products,” Pichai wrote. “Press Bard and make the product better.”
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