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OpenAI’s Monday ChatGPT announcement isn’t search, but it’s still a direct attack on Google

Published May 13th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
OpenAI's store for custom GPTs based on ChatGPT.
Image: YouTube

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With a few days to go until Google’s big I/O 2024 event, which will focus on artificial intelligence, a report last week said OpenAI would unveil a Google Search rival for ChatGPT a day before Google announces its own AI advancements for the year.

A Google Search alternative that would power ChatGPT’s access to real-time internet data might just be what OpenAI needs. It could also benefit Google Search users at large looking for an alternate way to search the web.

Strangely enough, OpenAI Sam Altman was quick to debunk the rumor. OpenAI would not unveil a Google Search rival on Monday. Equally surprising was the exec’s confirmation that OpenAI will hold some sort of mysterious ChatGPT event on May 13th.

Something that “feels like magic” is coming, and, make no mistake, this is a direct attack on Google’s AI. Why else hold an event just a day before Google’s big May 14th keynote?

Unsurprisingly, some of OpenAI’s ChatGPT announcements might have leaked. And if they’re accurate, it sure looks like the company is going after Google.

Retweeting OpenAI’s official announcement of the May 13th ChatGPT event, Altman had this to say:

not gpt-5, not a search engine, but we’ve been hard at work on some new stuff we think people will love! feels like magic to me.

This came in response to Friday’s Reuters report that the ChatGPT maker was readying a Google Search reveal for May 13th.

After that, The Information detailed (via The Verge) the ChatGPT product OpenAI might demo during its mid-May event.

The ChatGPT assistant

People who have seen the new AI tool told the blog that OpenAI will unveil a multimodal AI assistant that can talk to users using voice and text. The product can also recognize objects and images. The claim that the ChatGPT product can show better logical reasoning is even more interesting.

The multimodal assistant should be faster and more accurate when dealing with images and audio than OpenAI’s current abilities. The ChatGPT product might even understand the intonation of callers’ voices and determine whether they’re being sarcastic. In this instance, the assistant would be used in a customer support capacity.

Also, the AI assistant might see and translate road signs, The Information has learned. It would also deal with other prompts, like helping students with math problems.

For some questions, the new ChatGPT product would be better than GPT-4 Turbo, but it would still hallucinate information.

I’ll remind you that we saw a mysterious AI appear in public testing. At the time, I wondered whether it was OpenAI’s GPT-5 upgrade for ChatGPT. But what if that GPT2-Chatbot was actually a version of this multimodal assistant that is supposedly coming on Monday?

The Information isn’t the only one uncovering OpenAI’s ChatGPT secrets. Developer Ananay Arora posted on X code that OpenAI servers might handle real-time audio and video communication. This means a ChatGPT assistant could handle calls for users at some point in the future.

Google’s Pixie coming at I/O?

If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because Google already offers similar services or plans to do it. Google Assistant has been able to make calls. Separately, Google Lens lets you get information about the things around you and translate text. Circle to Search further improves that sort of search experience. Google could use AI to enhance these features further.

Rumors say Google is working on a Pixie AI product to replace Google Assistant. Pixie would initially be a Pixel-exclusive AI assistant. A different report from The Information said Gemini would power Pixie.

The assistant would draw information from apps like Gmail and Maps to become a more personal assistant. Pixie could perform “complex and multimodal tasks, such as suggesting directions to the closest store where someone can buy a product they have photographed.”

I’ll also point out that Google decided to announce the Pixel 8a during Apple’s big iPad Pro event last week. This was a futile attempt to steal some attention away from Apple. But maybe that’s not what it was all about. Google’s May 14th event might be all about AI software, so there’s no place for hardware announcements at this year’s I/O.

Finally, I’ll say what I’ve been saying for months: Personal AI is the endgame for all these companies. It’s also what I’d want from ChatGPT and its rivals: an AI that knows me and can better assist me. Sam Altman has been teasing that OpenAI is building such a ChatGPT experience.

That makes it very clear to me. Whatever OpenAI is about to announce during its mid-May event is a big deal for ChatGPT and for the evolution of AI. That’s why OpenAI is willing to compete with Google during the latter’s big AI week.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.