Open vs closed AI, and Google’s uneasy demo

Open vs closed AI, and Google’s uneasy demo

Last week a leaked memo reported to have been written by Luke Sernau, a senior engineer at Google, said out loud what many in Silicon Valley must have been whispering for weeks: an open-source free-for-all is threatening Big Tech’s grip on AI.

New open-source large language models—alternatives to Google’s Bard or OpenAI’s ChatGPT that researchers and app developers can study, build on, and modify—are dropping like candy from a piñata. These are smaller, cheaper versions of the best-in-class AI models created by the big firms that (almost) match them in performance—and they’re shared for free.

In many ways, that’s a good thing. AI won’t thrive if just a few mega-rich companies get to gatekeep this technology or decide how it is used. But this open-source boom is precarious, and if Big Tech decides to shut up shop, a boomtown could become a backwater. Read the full story.

—Will Douglas Heaven

That wasn’t Google I/O — it was Google AI

Everything about life in the AI era is a bit confusing and weird. Nowhere has this been more apparent than at Google I/O, the company’s annual conference showcasing what it’s been working on—and this year’s show was all about AI.

When Google CEO Sundar Pichai stepped on stage earlier this week, he launched straight into the ways AI is in everything the company does now, making it pretty clear that AI itself now is the core product, or at least, the backbone of it.

Mat Honan, our editor in chief, went to watch the Big Google AI Show. Despite the impressive-looking demos, ultimately he left with a deep sense of unease. Read his story to find out why.

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