Bard is unveiled, Alphabet shares receive a boost

Bard The race for AI has taken another turn as Google’s efforts have finally paid off, and now the company is eager to launch its chatbot service.

The initial backlash the company faced a couple of weeks earlier seems to have been drowned out with the company’s latest foray into the AI space.

Soon, chatbot enthusiasts can utilize Google’s latest innovation: Bard.

The news

Google recently announced opening access to its AI chatbot tool Bard, the company’s answer to rival ChatGPT.

Since Tuesday, users have been given access to a waitlist, allowing them to experiment with Bard.

Bard has similar tools that can allow users to try the following and more:

  • Outline and create essay drafts
  • Write out a plan for a baby shower
  • Create lunch ideas with the content of a refrigerator

According to Google, it will start rolling out Bard to the United States and the United Kingdom, with plans to expand the tool to more countries and languages in the future.

AI extravaganza

The news comes after several major tech companies, like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, among countless others, stepped up their efforts in the race to develop and deploy AI-powered tools.

The increased focus on AI sprang up after the viral success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Last week, Google announced it would integrate AI into its productivity tools, such as Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.

After their news, Microsoft announced a similar upgrade to its productivity tools.

In February, Google unveiled Bard through a demo that sparked criticism after it provided an inaccurate response to some questions.

As a result, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, experienced a 7.7% share drop, wiping out $100 billion from its market value.

Read also: Baidu stocks improve after ERNIE Bot demo

ChatGPT impact

Bard follows ChatGPT’s model, wherein it is built on a massive language model.

ChatGPT, a product developed by AI research firm OpenAI, was released to the public in late November.

The models are trained on massive amounts of data online to help the AI create unique responses to the user’s creative prompts.

It was ChatGPT’s success and the spotlight given to it that led to Google management calling a “code red” situation for its search business.

However, Bard’s mistakes during the demo emphasized the challenge Google and other companies had with integrating AI technology into their core products.

Large language models are helpful, but they can also present several issues, including:

  • Biases
  • Incorrect facts
  • Responding aggressively

On Tuesday, Google released a blog post saying its AI tools are stall prone to mistakes.

The company reassured people that it still uses human feedback to improve its system and add guardrails, such as capping the number of exchanges in a dialogue to keep the interactions helpful and stay on topic.

Last week, GPT-4 was launched as the next-generation version of the tech and to power Microsoft’s Bing browser with similar safeguards.

After its first day, GPT-4 surprised users with its early test and company demo.

Public sway

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, told employees that Bard’s success would largely rely on public testing in an email.

“As more people start to use Bard and test its capabilities, they’ll surprise us. Things will go wrong,” Pichai wrote.

“But the user feedback is critical to improving the product and the underlying technology.”

The message came as Google launched Bard.

Following the announcement, Alphabet shares were up nearly 4% in mid-day trading.

Pichai’s email also revealed that over 80,000 Google employees helped update Bard’s development following his all-hands-on-deck call to action in February.

The Tuesday note also said the company is working on testing responsibly, having invited 10,000 testers from different backgrounds and perspectives.

Pichai also told employees they should be proud of their work and the years of tech breakthroughs that led them to where they are.

“Even after all this progress, we’re still in the early stages of a long AI journey,” he said.

“For now, I’m excited to see how Bard sparks more creativity and curiosity in the people who use it.”

Google’s new focus is AI after ChatGPT pressure

Google The topic of conversation in online forums in recent months has been AI, notably ChatGPT.

Due to its high level of innovation, the well-known chatbot OpenAI has generated a lot of buzz since its inception in late 2022.

Google promises to provide something fresh to the table in order to compete with ChatGPT.

The company is aware of how popular the AI features have become since then.

The news

The Alphabet and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, declared last week that the business will soon integrate cutting-edge AI technologies in the search engine.

According to reports, Google tested a few of the features last week with staff members.

The trials are a component of a “code red” strategy to take against ChatGPT.

The company’s new search desktop designs feature a chatbot dubbed “Apprentice Bard” that uses a question-and-answer approach.

“Very soon, people will be able to interact directly with our newest, most powerful language model as a companion to Search, in experimental and innovative ways,” said Pichai.

He was referring to a discussion utilizing Google’s LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialogue Applications, technology.

Pichai said that in order to receive additional feedback, the business will provide the extensive language model in the upcoming weeks and months.

The ChatGPT threat

The growth of ChatGPT concerned workers in December.

During an all-hands meeting in December, questions regarding the company’s involvement in the race to develop chatbots for consumer enquiries were raised.

They were reassured by Sundar Pichai and Jeff Dean that the firm had comparable functionality, but the cost might be high if something goes wrong because people rely on Google for information.

“This really strikes a need that people seem to have but it’s also important to realize these models have certain types of issues,” said Dean.

The issue of artificial intelligence reportedly came up repeatedly on Google’s earnings call for the fourth quarter.

“AI is the most profound technology we are working on today,” said Pichai.

The corporation is dealing with pressure on Google’s main advertising business as well as another threat from their longtime competitors, Microsoft, at the same time that AI is receiving attention.

Fourth quarter earnings

When Alphabet released its fourth-quarter earnings report on Thursday, it fell short on both the top and bottom lines.

After hours, the stock fell by about 4%, wiping off some of the 7.28% gains made during regular trading hours.

In relation to the 12,000 employee layoff announced in January, Alphabet stated it will incur a charge of between $1.9 billion and $2.3 billion (mostly in the first quarter of 2023) on its books.

In the first quarter, the corporation anticipates suffering expenditures of more than $500 million because of reduced office space.

Read also: BuzzFeed and Peretti take a unique stance on AI

They also cautioned that other charges (related to real estate) might be brought in the future.

Alphabet missed Wall Street revenue and profit forecasts for the fourth consecutive quarter in its earnings report on Thursday.

The fragility of the advertising industry was also evident in an 8% drop in YouTube’s ad income and a further 2% drop in Google’s Search and Others revenue.

Pressure

In addition to the financial issue, Google has been under pressure from the Microsoft-backed ChatGPT.

Web search is the company’s main line of business, and it has long hailed itself as an AI pioneer.

But generative AI solutions like ChatGPT may provide a challenge to Google’s approach to internet search.

The chatbot offers original solutions to difficult searches.

Additionally, Microsoft is thinking of integrating ChatGPT’s features into Bing, its own search engine.

More focus on AI

Despite stepping away from day-to-day operations in 2019, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin took a keen interest in the initiatives as the prospect of falling behind in AI growth.

Along with the aforementioned enhancements to search, Google also revealed changes to its DeepMind financial reporting structure.

Since DeepMind is the artificial intelligence utilized, Google will be affected by the restructure rather than the Other Bets sectors, which include long-term investments in venture capital and self-driving technology.

For more than $500 million, Google purchased the London-based business in 2014.

When the business reformed as Alphabet in 2015, they subsequently placed it under the Other Bets division.

Two years ago, DeepMind made its first profit.

The reporting shift on the Thursday results call underscores DeepMind’s strategic aim to assist each end of its segments.

“To be very clear, we consolidate Other Bets into Google only when that bet supports products and services within Google or Alphabet broadly,” said Porat.

“That was very effective,” she added, referring to Chronicle, a cybersecurity company that rolled into Google’s cloud unit in 2019.

Sundar Pichai said that the business will offer fresh tools and APIs to enable partners, creators, and developers to explore fresh AI capabilities.

“These models are particularly amazing for composing, constructing, and summarizing,” said Pichai.

He clarified that he believes significant language usage is in its infancy, hence cautioned that it would need to develop gently.

 

Pandemic led tech companies into error of judgment; how they’re coping

Pandemic: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained how the pandemic’s arrival shifted the scales in the company’s favor two years ago.

Microsoft prospered as a result of its online services.

“What we have witnessed over the past year is the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation sweeping every company and every industry,” said Nadella.

Starting in 2023, the scenario is drastically different from how it was two years before.

Microsoft made the decision to fire 10,000 employees public this week.

The corporation said that as it deals with economic uncertainty, it is reevaluating its digital spending from the pandemic era.

Microsoft users are attempting to do “more with less,” according to Nadella.

The tech space

Microsoft has not been the only business to change course; other businesses have also been laying off employees.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has announced its intention to lay off 6% of its workforce (around 12,000 jobs).

Major corporations including Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft have started posting news about letting go of more than 50,000 employees since October.

The decisions run contrary to the pandemic’s early stages, when tech giants were growing to satisfy soaring demand.

Many people in the sector at the time believed the expansion would last for many more years.

However, compared to September 2019, Amazon more than doubled the corporate workforce of the company.

While building new warehouses, they employed over 500,000 people.

Between March 2020 and September of last year, the employment of the massive social media company Meta was doubled.

Other businesses that increased their employee count include:

  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Salesforce
  • Snap
  • Twitter

In the past several weeks, the aforementioned businesses have also announced layoffs.

Read also: Copyright violations catch up to Midjourney AI as lawsuit looms

Error in judgment

Most tech leaders underestimated the pandemic’s expansion, particularly in light of the number of individuals who returned to their offices and routine.

Consumer spending and advertising have decreased recently due to a number of issues, including:

  • Recessionary fears
  • Inflation
  • Increasing interest rates

In the middle of the crucial December quarter, Wall Street analysts are now forecasting single-digit profit growth for a number of corporations.

Apple and Meta are anticipated to experience declines, according to Refinitiv forecasts.

Recent headcount reductions often refer to a tiny portion of the total workforce.

While they eliminate gains from the prior year for some, they leave tens of thousands (or perhaps hundreds of thousands) of employees for others.

However, it disrupts the lives of employees who are now looking for new employment due to their company’s seemingly endless development.

Pandemic growth

Investment company Third Bridge’s worldwide sector lead, Scott Kessler, offered his thoughts on the tech industry’s recent decisions and early development.

“They went from being on top of the world to having to make some really tough decisions,” said Kessler.

“To see this dramatic reversal of fortunes… it’s not just the magnitude of these moves, but the speed that they’ve played out.”

“You’ve seen companies make the wrong strategic decisions at the wrong times.”

Apple is still the only major player in technology to have not disclosed layoffs.

With the exception of research and development, the corporation apparently placed a hiring freeze.

Apple increased their employment by 20% over the past four years, which is far less than other businesses.

“They’ve taken a more seemingly thoughtful approach to hiring and overall managing the company,” noted Kessler.

Meanwhile, tecg CEOs have admitted that they made a mistake by hiring too many people at the start of the pandemic and by failing to predict the surge in demand when the pandemic’s restrictions were lifted.

Pichai admitted responsibility for Alphabet’s layoffs on Friday and vowed to return the company’s attention to its core activities.

He wrote an email to the staff on Friday, and it ended up on the business website.

“The face that these changes will impact the lives of Googlers weighs heavily on me,” Pichai wrote.

“I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.”

Aftermath

None of the CEOs of the large corporations appear to have had their title or compensation changed as a result of the layoffs.

With all the economic warnings, according to Scott Kessler, the tech layoff announcements will probably continue over the forthcoming earnings season.

Companies that haven’t seen such repercussions may soon decide to reduce their workforces in response.

Kessler observed:

“I think there is an element of [some companies], saying ‘We might not see this right now but all these other big companies, these companies that we compete with, that we know, that we respect, are taking these kinds of actions, so maybe we should be thinking and acting accordingly.”