Google CEO Sundar Pichai on the AI moment: “You’ll see us being bold”
Here are some other highlights of Mr. Pichai’s remarks:
On first lukewarm reception to Google’s Bard chatbot:
We knew when we kicked Bard out, we wanted to be careful… So it’s no surprise to me that was the reaction. But in some ways, I feel like we took a pumped up Civic and kind of put it in a race with more powerful cars. And what surprised me was how well it works on so many query classes. But we will iterate quickly. We clearly have better performing models. Very soon, maybe when this goes live, we will upgrade Bard to some of our better PaLM models, which will bring more capabilities, whether in reasoning, coding, it can respond better to math questions. So you will see progress over the next week.
If ChatGPT’s success came as a surprise:
With OpenAI, we had a lot of context. There are some incredibly good people, some of whom had worked at Google before, so we knew the caliber of the team. So I think OpenAI’s progress didn’t surprise us. I think ChatGPT… you know, thanks to them for finding something that fits the product market. The reception from the users, I think, was a pleasant surprise, maybe even for them, and for many of us.
On his concerns about tech companies rushing to AI advancements:
Sometimes I worry when people use the word ‘race’ and ‘be first’. I’ve been thinking about AI for a long time, and we’re certainly working with technology that’s going to be incredibly beneficial, but clearly has the potential to cause deep damage. And so I think it’s very important that we are all responsible for how we approach it.
On the return of Larry Page and Sergey Brin:
I had a few meetings with them. Sergey has been hanging out with our engineers for a while now. He is a great mathematician and computer scientist. So for him, the underlying technology, I think if I had to use his words, he would say it’s the most exciting thing he’s seen in his life.So that’s all this excitement. And I’m happy. They always said, “Call us when you need it. And I call them.
On the open letter, signed by nearly 2,000 AI researchers and tech luminaries, including Elon Musk, who urged companies to halt development of powerful AI systems for at least six months:
In this area, I think it is important to hear the concerns. There are many thoughtful people behind this, including people who have been thinking about AI for a long time. I remember talking to Elon eight years ago, and he was deeply concerned about the safety of AI then. I think he was always worried. And I think there is cause for concern. While I may not agree with everything there and the details of how you would go about it, I think the spirit of (the letter) is worth having there.
If he’s worried about the danger of creating an artificial general intelligence, or AGI, an AI that surpasses human intelligence:
When is AGI? What is this? How do you define it? When are we getting here? These are all good questions. But to me, it almost doesn’t matter because it’s so clear to me that these systems are going to perform very, very well. And so it doesn’t matter whether you have reached the AGI or not; you’re going to have systems capable of delivering benefits on a scale we’ve never seen before, and potentially causing real harm. Can we have an AI system that can cause large-scale misinformation? Yes. Is it AGI? It really doesn’t matter.
Why climate change activism makes him optimistic about AI:
One of the things that gives me hope about AI, like climate change, is that it affects everyone. Over time, we live on one planet, and so these are two issues that have similar characteristics in the sense that you cannot unilaterally achieve security in AI. By definition, it affects everyone. So that tells me that the collective will come in time to tackle all of this responsibly.
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