5 things Google thinks about using AI

After a Google I/O in which artificial intelligence was often discussed (and some hardware was announced at the end), one thing is clear: AI is the future. TheVerge spoke with Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, to dig deeper into the future of AI. These are five striking things that Google had to say.

‘People must decide for themselves whether the use of AI is appropriate’

Compose an email to your colleague with how grateful you are for her hard work, but don’t write it yourself but let AI do it for you? Sundar says he’s been thinking a lot about how he’d feel if he got an AI email like that. “I think there will be a kind of social norm that may change in the future. People will decide for themselves whether the use of AI is appropriate. The last thing you want is for an email written by AI to also be answered by AI. I don’t think it’s a big deal in the case of a complaint to a company, but for me that wouldn’t work in a personal example like a thank you email. But at the same time I have friends who say they are not very good at writing those emails and could use some help. As a society, I therefore think that we will eventually find our way in this.

‘People adapt better to this kind of new tech than we think’

When asked whether there have also been some standards changes at Google itself when it comes to AI, Sundar says: “At first I thought it was strange to use those smart email replies and AI-based mail drafting. Later, however, emotion came in and that made all the difference. I think I’m now better at depicting an emotion that I actually feel. I think people are adapting to this kind of new tech better than we think. We learn very quickly how to use this kind of technology.”

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Google found the arrival of mobile phones more exciting than that of AI

Sundar calls artificial intelligence a major platform change, in which many people will change their behavior. But with such major changes, it also often happens that the power of the established order declines and new players emerge. Does Google care about that? “I felt that risk more with the advent of mobile phones. We developed Android and I think as a company we really had to change a lot for the mobile world. After all, we were built on the internet and now you could suddenly put apps on a phone. With AI… this is our seventh year as an AI-first company and so that’s really ingrained in what we do. These kinds of platform changes are certainly disruptive, but when I look at the scale and size of the opportunity that lies with AI, we have worked hard. We know what it means to build AI into our products.”

Google is a bit late with an AI chatbot for the sake of the user

OpenAI managed to put the focus on AI by coming up with the immensely popular chatbot ChatGPT. Google was very reactive with its Bard -and further AI announcements- and not really the trendsetter. Sundar says, “We came here to see how ready the users were. These technologies also have weaknesses, but you realize that you are now in a time when people are ready for it. We realized that and we started working on it. We needed some time to get it right and that was important to us. Our products are used by so many people, I thought it was important to have it properly arranged. Google wasn’t there all those years ago when the internet changed the world.

Google thinks it’s not too bad with the disappearance of jobs due to AI

Sundar: “In the 20 years that we continue to automate technology, people have constantly predicted that all kinds of jobs would disappear. Cinemas would disappear from the streets, but that has not really happened. Movies are more popular than ever. Twenty years ago, when people predicted exactly what tech automation would do, very specific statements were made about entire job categories disappearing. That has not fully materialized yet. Take the legal profession, for example. Something tells me that sooner more people will become lawyers, because the underlying reasons why law and legal systems exist are not disappearing, because those are the problems of humanity. So AI will make the profession better in some respects. It can have unintended consequences, but I’m almost willing to bet that there will be more lawyers in 10 years time.”

What do you think of these statements from Google’s CEO? What do you find striking? Leave it now in the comments.

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