Google Assistant Is Getting An AI Overhaul To Behave More Like ChatGPT

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A couple of years ago, voice assistants were all the rage—Google, Apple, and Amazon all have their own personified virtual helpers, though most have scaled back spending on these systems. Now, generative AI is all the rage, and Google says via an internal memo that it's going to infuse Google Assistant with that tech as well. However, this effort has perplexingly begun with a round of layoffs.

Generative AI has been on the back burner for a while, but it exploded in popularity after Microsoft demoed ChatGPT integration in Bing. Google famously rushed its Bard AI out the door, showing off several glaring errors in its own announcement. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, initially said these models were too dangerous for public release because they can lie so convincingly. That is still a problem, but there's money to be made.

A new report from Axios reveals that Google's Assistant group is getting a major shakeup. In an internal email, Google explains that integrating large language models (LLMs) will "supercharge" Assistant. It's unclear what that means, but all the existing voice assistants could use an overhaul. These platforms are often confused by slight variations in wording, which is exactly the kind of thing generative AI is good at, having ingested a mountain of data to better understand language. On the other hand, generative AI is also prone to making things up, and the models may even justify these "hallucinations" when pressed.

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It will be a challenge for Google to turn LLMs into a reliable voice assistant, but it's already started work. According to the email, most of which covers mundane staffing issues, part of the Assistant team has already started integrating LLMs with the mobile version of Google Assistant. Most of today's smartphones have dedicated AI processing hardware, which could make this work easier. Google's Tensor ARM chips in Pixel devices are particularly focused on running machine learning workloads.

Google also notes that a "small number" of jobs on the Assistant teams. The number is reportedly in the dozens, but Google does have thousands of people working on Assistant across all its incarnations. There's no indication of when we'll see this new, AI-backed Assistant, but the company was quick to offer beta versions of other generative AI products. Maybe the new Assistant will appear sooner rather than later.