ChatGPT has taken the world by storm in the past few months, with recent estimates claiming the chatbot topped 100 million monthly users in January. That’s much faster than apps like TikTok and Instagram, and the increasing popularity of ChatGPT hasn’t gone unnoticed. Google appears to be threatened by the chatbot, which could grow into an online search alternative. That’s why Google scrambled to deploy all resources on its ChatGPT-like chatbots that are already in testing internally.
But Google will go one step further and make some of these tools available for the public to test soon. Not only that, but Google has scheduled an event about artificial intelligence (AI) on February 8th. That’s several months earlier than the expected I/O 2023 chatbot demos.
This turn of events shows that Google is really interested in changing the conversation. The Search giant probably wants the world to know it has ChatGPT-like products of its own. Not that we’d ever doubt that. Google has shown remarkable progress in AI and human voice modeling over the years.
But Google never felt the pressure to make these products available to consumers in an early form. ChatGPT changed all that. The longer Google takes to deploy alternatives, the more popular ChatGPT might get, considering there are no other alternatives.
The first thing Google did was to announce that it’ll let people interact directly with its “newest, most powerful language models as a companion to search.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai dropped the surprising news during Thursday’s quarterly earnings call.
This won’t be a full product ready to deliver a new Google Search experience. It’ll be early stages for Google’s AI products, as the exec explained later in the call. Google wants to be careful about its AI products. Some will be available as labs features in some cases or beta cases in others. Google will then scale up slowly from there.
Google is making a statement more than anything. It wants the world to know that ChatGPT might have been the first, but it also has similar, if not better, AI chatbots at its disposal.
After the earnings call, Google announced an unexpected press event for February 8th. Google will stream a 40-minute Search presentation on YouTube, per The Verge.
The invite makes no reference to AI or chatbots.
Tune in to hear how we’re reimagining the way people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need.
But the only way to make online search more natural and intuitive might be to turn it into a conversation with AI. The kind ChatGPT supports.
The images that Google uses indicate that it will talk about Google Search, Lens, Translate, Shopping, and Maps. These are products that could benefit from smarter AI features. Products that might incorporate chatbots in the more distant future.
But with the popularity of ChatGPT and its threat to Google’s dominion over Search, Google’s Paris presentation isn’t an accident or coincidence. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Google unveil its own chatbot during the short event and then make it available in beta form to users.