How Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant lost the race for AI

How Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant lost the race for AI

How Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant lost the race for AI

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Amazon’s hiccups with Alexa may have led Google astray, said a former manager who worked on Google Assistant. Google engineers spent years experimenting with its assistant to mimic what Alexa could do, including designing voice-activated smart speakers and tablet screens to control home accessories like thermostats and light switches. ‘lighting. The company then embedded advertisements into these home products, which did not become a major source of revenue.


Over time, Google realized that most people only use the voice assistant for a limited number of simple tasks, such as starting timers and playing music, the former official said. In 2020, when Prabhakar Raghavan, a Google executive, took over Google Assistant, his group refocused the virtual companion as a flagship feature for Android smartphones.

In January, when Google’s parent company laid off 12,000 employees, the team working on operating systems for home devices lost 16% of its engineers.

Many big tech companies are now rushing to offer ChatGPT answers. At Apple headquarters last month, the company hosted its annual AI Summit, an internal event for employees to learn about its big language model and other AI tools, two people briefed on the matter said. program. Many engineers, including members of the Siri team, tested language-generating concepts every week, the people said.

On Tuesday, Google also announced that it would soon release generative AI tools to help businesses, governments and software developers build apps with built-in chatbots and integrate the underlying technology into their systems.

In the future, chatbot and voice assistant technologies will converge, AI experts have said. This means people will be able to control chatbots with speech, and those using Apple, Amazon and Google products will be able to ask virtual assistants to help them with their jobs, not just tasks like checking the weather.

“These products have never worked in the past because we’ve never had human-level dialogue capabilities,” said Aravind Srinivas, founder of Perplexity, an AI startup that offers a powered search engine. by a chatbot. “Now we do.”

Cade Metz contributed report.


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