Google is laying the groundwork to “supercharge” its seven-year-old Assistant with the latest advancements in generative artificial intelligence (AI). The move comes as part of a major reorganization of the Assistant unit and is set to utilize large language models (LLM) similar to those behind technologies such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbot.
Exploring New Technologies
The company has begun exploring the possibilities of a “supercharged” Assistant powered by large language models, as reported by Axios. The technology could potentially allow Assistants to answer questions based on information gleaned from across the web. A portion of the team has already started working on integrating this technology, beginning with mobile platforms.
Updates to Bard
Google has been rolling out updates to Bard since launching it publicly in March. The company has expanded to over 40 languages in more countries and will include features like audio responses, thanks to its newest LLM, Palm 2.
Reorganization of the Assistant Unit
The major reshuffle of the Assistant unit includes the condensation of the team that works on Assistant, a move that is aimed at allowing the division to move with “speed and focus.” Several changes are expected:
- Elimination of a small number of roles with dozens of workers reportedly laid off. Affected employees will be given 60 days to search for other jobs within Google.
- A dozen changes to the “Speech” team, which oversees voice commands. Francoise Beaufays, the former head of Speech, is moving to work under Sissie Hsiao, who oversees Bard and Assistant.
- The reorganization also underscores a prioritizing of Bard, and Peeyush Ranjan, who had been vice president of commerce, has stepped in as engineering lead for the unit and oversees more than 1,700 full-time employees.
Commitment to Quality
Despite the organizational changes, Google executives, including Peeyush Ranjan, the vice president of Google Assistant, and Duke Dukellis, the company’s product director, emphasized their commitment to Assistant and its future. Jennifer Rodstrom, a Google spokesperson, further stressed the company’s dedication to providing “high-quality experiences” to hundreds of millions of Assistant users.
Potential Privacy Implications
Though the introduction of generative AI technology to Google Assistant promises big possibilities, it’s unclear when Google plans to bring this technology to its smart home products. There are potential privacy implications that may raise concerns among users.
Competition and Challenges
For Google, a company that has dominated internet searches for nearly two decades, the stakes are high. Technologies like ChatGPT and Microsoft Bing, which utilize OpenAI’s model, are presenting alternative ways for people to search for answers. This evolution in search methodology requires Google to innovate and adapt to maintain its competitive edge.
The rapid developments in generative AI are pushing Google to embed the technology into as many products as possible. As the Assistant continues to be a vital component in Google’s ecosystem of devices, including mobile, home devices, smart speakers, and more, these advancements highlight the company’s determination to lead in the evolving landscape of intelligent technology. The reshuffle emphasizes a focus on innovation and quality, as well as a reflection of the emerging importance of generative AI in modern digital assistants.