Google takes wraps off its answer to Microsoft’s AI search challenge

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Google takes wraps off its answer to Microsoft’s AI search challenge
MOUNTAIN VIEW (California, US): Alphabet Inc’s Google on Wednesday unveiled more artificial intelligence in its products to answer the latest competition from Microsoft Corp, which has threatened its perch atop the nearly $300 billion search advertising market. Through an internal project code-named Magi, Google has looked to infuse its namesake engine with generative AI, technology that can answer questions with human-like prose and derive new content from past data.

The effort will be the most closely watched as Google executives take the stage at its yearly conference I/O in Mountain View, California, near its headquarters. The result could alter how consumers access the world’s information and which company wins the global market for search advertising, estimated by research firm MAGNA to be $286 billion this year. “We are reimagining all of our core products, including search,” Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s CEO, said after he took the stage at the event.

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He said Google is integrating generative AI into search and other products, including Gmail, where it can create draft messages, and Google Photos, where it can make major changes to images.

Alphabet shares rose 2.5 per cent after the news. They have risen by a fifth so far this year, compared with a 17pc rise in the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite index. Now, Google is making its ChatGPT competitor, Bard, multimodal like OpenAI’s GPT-4, the company said on Wednesday, and will make it accessible to people in more than 180 countries and territories. That means customers will be able to prompt Bard with images, not just text — for instance asking the chatbot to write a caption to a picture they hand it, it said.

Behind Bard also is a more powerful AI model Google announced called PaLM 2, which it said could solve tougher problems. PaLM 2 is currently available as a preview. Pichai said one of its PaLM 2 models is lightweight enough to work on smartphones. The Bard chatbot is now running on PaLM 2, the company said.

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