Alarm bells have been going off at Google ever since the clever chatbot, ChatGPT, landed on the scene on Nov. 30 and went viral dazzling users with its ability to answer queries, write code and create content intelligently and with a charming human-like personality.
But for all of the astonishing things ChatGPT can do, its beta version is not connected to the internet, and so while it can tell you what to wear to ace an interview, it’s not yet able to drive commerce to stores where you can buy the actual outfit.
Enter the search giants seeking to become first movers.
CNBC has learned that Google is testing a chatbot rival called “Apprentice Bard” based on Google’s LaMDA conversational technology to offer question-and-answer search. Since December, the company has been operating under “Code Red” with its chief executive officer Sundar Pichai enlisting founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to advise on speeding AI-powered search products to market, according to The New York Times. In January, the company began a reorganization with mass layoffs to align with its new priorities.
This comes as Microsoft announced on Jan. 23 its third round of investment in ChatGPT-creator OpenAI. In a multi-billion dollar deal, the software giant plans to integrate generative AI technology across its Azure cloud platform and scale supercomputing breakthroughs. The company is also planning to release a GPT-4 version of its Bing search engine in the coming weeks, according to Semafor, which is expected to be faster and more powerful than ChatGPT, a GPT-3 model.
Others planning to release AI bot services next month include Chinese internet search giant Baidu, according to Reuters, and Silicon Valley-based enterprise software platform C3.ai which boosted its stock price on Jan. 31 when it announced that it will be unveiling its own generative AI search tool at the C3 Transform conference in Boca Raton, Florida on Mar. 7.
But can ChatGPT save 2023?
With the Fed continuing its campaign of raising interest rates to calm inflation, many see innovation in generative AI as the silver bullet that can drive growth during this period of economic uncertainty.
Among them, Y Combinator president and chief executive officer Garry Tan.
The renowned Silicon Valley accelerator best known for launching some of the world’s largest tech companies including Airbnb, Cruise, and Instacart, also incubated ChatGPT-maker OpenAI when it was founded as a nonprofit in 2015 with backing by then-YC president Sam Altman, YC cofounder Jessica Livingston, and PayPal alumni Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman, among others, according to Vanity Fair.
Tan said he has seen a flood of ChatGPT-related pitches with best use cases in the areas of software programming. YC investments in the space include coding platform Replit, database interface Outerbase, note-taker Cogram, and content creator Jasper.ai.
“It’s the new frontier — like working on Facebook apps or iOS apps when those platforms were new,” said Tan. But he cautioned that it could take five to 10 years for Google-scale companies to emerge from this wave, similar timing to the advent of mobile as that’s how long it tends to take for new technologies to root.
Morgan Blumberg, an investor at the venture capital firm M13, has also seen an influx of companies tackling complex problems utilizing the advancements in large language models on image and voice data.
“We have invested in several productivity tools that use LLM like GPT3 to further automate and enhance daily work. Coding, content creation, relationship management, search and data presentation are the next areas in which we see disruptive potential for generative AI,” she said.
Gold rush is on
For those seeking to tinker with the model, the company has just launched a $20 subscription version called ChatGPT Plus which provides access during high demand periods with faster response speeds and priority access to new features. The company is also continuing to offer its free version at chat.openai.com which it is using to train the model. Developers can access OpenAI’s APIs at openai.com/api.