Now is the wrong time for Google Bard
Sometimes you feel like shouting First!
Apparently, so has Google and its CEO, Sundar Pichai, who has been scrambling to remind the world that Google is the king of AI and has an AI-powered chatbot/searchbot/trash bot, and it’s called Bard.
Cool name aside, Bard is one of those things that needed to be kept in the oven for a while. No, I’m not talking about one specific thing that shows why the timing isn’t right for Bard, but rather that all of these things form a pattern: Google should have waited.
Google could have afforded to wait. In a rush to beat Microsoft’s ChatGPT partnership announcement, Google couldn’t wait to tell us that it has the same thing and that people are testing it now. And all it did was cost the company money, upset employees, and make Google look like it was lagging behind in AI.
Money is the root of all Google
(Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Forget the idea that a mistake about astronomy caused Google’s stock to drop 9% on the day of the Bard demonstration. While I’m sure some investors are total astronomy buffs, this was really one of those things that only the internet really noticed.
However, investors noted that Google was tinkering with its big money maker. Google Search generates as much money as a small country for the Mountain View giant and between the new Bing making some sort of play and Google talking about making significant changes to search, investors are getting a little twitchy.
You can’t really blame them – we’ve all seen Google’s ideas go south and Bard could be another. The difference is that this time it will affect the company’s bottom line if it fails.
That’s all investors care about.
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)
What the mistake did was confirm Google’s original fears of jumping into a consumer AI product too soon to be right. Google has a reputation as the place to go for the right information and getting it wrong is something Google cannot afford to do. Getting it wrong is also something AI does a lot, and will continue to do.
This is not a problem for Microsoft, which has much less to lose and much to gain. Very few people use Bing regularly and it is not synonymous with a search like Google is. No one is saying I’ll Bing it and figure it out, because basically no one is Bing-ing anything. People will overlook more mistakes from Bing than from Google.
What the integration of ChatGPT does for Microsoft is draw in eyeballs. Many people will be using Bing for the first time in a while and see something they like. For example, if you hit Bing for something, you might see how well it does an image search on your phone, and you might like it enough to switch.
At least they didn’t call it Cortana.
The biggest winner, of course, is OpenAI, which has seen its coffers swell with Microsoft dollars. Good for them – they were able to leverage existing technology in a way that people wanted to use it. This is exactly what companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft did to get where they are today.
The biggest losers appear to be Google employees. According to CNBC, many of them are very unhappy with the whole Bard revelation.
“Dear Sundar, The Bard launch and the layoffs were rushed, broken and short-sighted. “Please return to a long-term outlook.”
This and many other disagreements are what Google employees share on an internal forum. It seems the workers feel the technology isn’t ready, Google isn’t ready, and consumers aren’t ready yet. It doesn’t help that it came as a surprise to almost everyone who works at Google.
There is so much wrong here. (Image credit: Future)
For us, the answer is easy — sit back and watch the spectacle. If you have money invested in Google, you may not enjoy it in the short term, but remember that both the Internet and the stock market have very short memories.
For Google, it’s too late to turn back. Once you let the cat out of the bag you can just stick to the plan and hope for the best. I sincerely hope that Bard’s testing phase is long enough to both work out the bugs (probably not possible) and to think of all the horrible things people will try to do with it (also not possible) before it becomes normal turn up, well – people adapted to use. We really don’t need a Google Tay.
Google is a world leader in AI technology and AI has been part of Google Search for a long time. Jumping the gun to take some wind out of Microsoft’s sails was a dumb move that didn’t need to happen.