Google counters Microsoft’s AI push with cloud initiative

WASHINGTON: Google has presented a comprehensive initiative with which companies and organisations can build AI applications themselves without much effort.

In addition, the office system Google Workspace will be expanded to include AI functions, Google announced on Tuesday.

The programme includes the use of language models developed by Google. In addition, the internet company wants to offer a development environment (“MakerSuite”) with which users can build their own AI applications.

With this AI initiative, Google is countering a push by Microsoft. The world’s largest software company, which has been left behind by Google in important business areas such as online advertising and internet search, is trying to replace traditional Google search with queries to an AI system developed by Californian start-up OpenAI.

For this purpose, the AI technology GPT was integrated into the Microsoft search Bing as well as into Microsoft’s web browser. An integration into Microsoft’s Office products is also expected.

Google’s current product initiative comes ahead of another Microsoft announcement expected this Thursday. Andreas Braun, Microsoft’s head of technology in Germany, had explained at an information event last week that his company would then present the new version GPT-4.

“There we have multimodal models that will offer completely different possibilities – videos, for example,” Braun said. Support for different languages is also to be improved.

The early Google counterpart is aimed both at companies and private users. In a presentation, the head of Google Cloud, Thomas Kurian, used the example of the fictitious furniture company Cymbal to show how commercial users might benefit from Google AI.

Here, AI applications could be combined with the company’s data, for example with the furniture store’s product catalogue and the new offers of the spring collection.

This would not only automate the updating of the website. The AI could also take over applications such as a consultation chat for customers, in which, for example, a sensible combination of different pieces of furniture is discussed.

Kurian emphasised that data protection would be strictly guaranteed when integrating sensitive data from companies. Customers could meanwhile use encryption methods with their own key so that Google itself would not have access to the data. The customer data would also not be mixed with the data pool for the public Google search.

The Google initiative also includes so-called generative AI, meaning content that is produced with the help of artificial intelligence.

The most prominent example of generative AI is OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. Google’s text robot is called Bart, but unlike ChatGPT, it is not yet available to the general public.

In future, Google will make corresponding functions available to its customers who use the office suite Google Workplace. This will allow, for example, longer email exchanges to be summarised at the push of a button or the results to be transferred into a presentation. The scope and tonality can be changed in the process.

Google did not yet name prices for the AI interfaces and development kits on Tuesday. These are to be published at a later date. – dpa

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