The way ChatGPT has created a buzz in the technology world has resulted in setting a record for the fastest app to reach 100 million users in just two months, surpassing Google+, which took one year and two months to reach that milestone. ChatGPT went from zero to millions of users leaving observers in awe. Reuters has reported estimates that suggested ChatGPT has topped 100 million monthly active users and is seeing around 5 million users a day, per the New York Times.
The AI chatbot launched by OpenAI, a not-for-profit organization co-founded by Sam Altman, Elon Musk, and a few others and backed by Microsoft, allows people to ask questions and receive answers on a wide range of topics that people otherwise search on search engines like Google. That is why many dub ChatGPT as a google killer. CNBC reported that the technology is an example of generative AI, which is trained on large amounts of data on the Internet to generate text-based responses, articles, essays, jokes, create programming codes, even images, and even poetry in responses to the user prompts.
The way it created interest and excitement across spectrums, it is not surprising that all those who matter in the technology segment have joined the race not to be left behind or with strategies to beat ChatGPT. The kind of interest ChatGPT and generative AI have created among technologists and laymen are driving tech giants to rethink and restrategize their product plans to capitalize on the trend. Google, foreseen to be most affected by the product, recently announced a similar service, Bard AI.
Many consider ChatGPT may wipe out a range of jobs and usurp the existing education model with the possibility of students’ coursework being done instantly using ChatGPT or similar tools. However, the creators of ChatGPT have a larger goal in mind than taking people’s jobs. That said. This AI technology is still in its nascent stages. It may present answers as facts using the content available on the internet as it was in 2021t, which has a lot of unauthentic information, some of it dangerous misinformation.
Internet search is a multi-billion dollar revenue sector in which Google is the leader ahead by miles of the next competitor. Google's parent company Alphabet reported $104bn (£86bn) in revenue for the year 2020, just from the search business. Any other player gaining a small fraction of that market share would be a boost to their top line and it is not surprising that Microsoft, which owns the search engine Bing, has a multi-billion dollar partnership with OpenAI.
Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, launched its own AI chatbot Blenderbot in the US last year and the tech giant Baidu is planning to roll out an advanced version of its chatbot Ernie (also known as Wenxin Yiyan) in China in March 2023.
AI has been around for some time and most tech companies have been working on advancements in AI for a long time now, but the advent of ChatGPT changed the craze tremendously and the focus is now more on generative programs that can generate text, images, and other content in response to requests of users. Let us examine what are the tech giants upto, to in response to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Microsoft has a longstanding close relationship and investments in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. This has made it possible for the tech giant to initiate the adoption of generative AI-based tools on its products. There are a lot of leaked pictures of a ChatGPT-powered Bing available on the internet. The search experience may change with the new way of typing in your query and receiving one definitive answer, rather than pages and pages of links (and ads) to wade through.
Microsoft released the premium version of Teams that integrates ChatGPT-based technology to make meetings more intelligent, personalized, and protected. It provides the facility to take meeting notes, organize tasks, and translate texts as can be understood from a tweet from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Many believe that Microsoft is in the final stages of integrating ChatGPT with its Office applications such as Email, Word, and other programs.
The company has also been investing in LaMDA, a project which is said to behave like humans in its responses. One of its engineers who worked on this project said he believed that the program had reached sentience. Google has just announced the launch of its own rival - an AI chatbot called Bard, based on Lamda in response to the speculation about Microsoft and ChatGPT.
The tech giant is making an investment of $300m in a firm called Anthropic, which is developing a rival to ChatGPT. The launch of and buzz around ChatGPT reportedly prompted Google CEO Sundar Pichai to declare a "code red," consult with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google founders, and speed up its generative AI-related products.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, has invested a lot of money and resources into AI to help them translate texts, rank news feeds, moderate content, and execute other related tasks. However, two of Meta’s recent demos of generative AI tools did not receive many accolades, rather it received a lot of criticism for its below-par quality and inaccurate output of its ChatGPT-like Blenderbot. "The two major technological waves driving our roadmap are AI today, and over the longer term, the metaverse," Zuckerberg said.
Amazon already has an AI-enabled Alexa for voice recognition, optimization of its store operations, and for other purposes, but it is yet to join the regenerative AI race in full steam. There are reports that suggest that some Amazon software engineers were making use of ChatGPT as an aid in their coding tasks. However, Amazon has a different view about ChatGPT and regenerative AI space as we can infer from the tweet of Amazon CTO Werner Vogels - ChatGPT "is not concerned about the truth, but just about putting words together convincingly,"
The company too has a different take on ChatGPT and regenerative AI as Tim Cook, Apple CEO, talked about the capabilities of AI to transform anything that Apple does. He was more focused on AI solutions to detecting car crashes and heart rhythms among others than the buzz around generative AI. He also indicated that Apple is a company that typically remains secretive about its product research and development till its launch.
Chinese technology giants have also joined the generative artificial intelligence race showing their intentions to develop ChatGPT-style products. However, the announcements from China’s biggest firms do not point to them working on full products like the ChatGPT. Instead, companies from Alibaba to Baidu to NetEase are talking about the specific technology application in response to ChatGPT. Chinese technology firms have had to adapt to a new regulatory situation and their announcements around their ChatGPT responses, which have been circumspect, reflect that reality.
Some in the industry believe the hype surrounding AI should be viewed with caution. There is already the use of integration with many tools that we use daily, ranging from searching Facebook’s algorithm to manage news feeds to bringing intelligence to Google search to spam filters on Emails to the voice-to-text function of mobile phones. However, ChatGPT has made the world notice that there is a demand for generative AI capabilities that can simulate human communication and creativity. The herd mentality of tech companies is creating the craze and mania around ChatGPT and regenerative AI tools. There is no debate that AI has a big future though we don’t know exactly what benefits - economic and creative - generative AI can bring about and how it can harm people and society and whether it will encounter failures.
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