Look out Google, here comes chatbot

Warning: not all of this article was written by a human

Google was a game-changer when it first came out. I started using the browser in 1998.

image: Call Centre Helper

I was hooked on Google from the start. Unlike other browsers, Google had an uncluttered screen with a simple search window. And it delivered results.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has revolutionized the tech industry with so many reliable products like Translate, Maps, Earth, Street View, and Docs. Alphabet made what came before it look like lumbering dinosaurs.

Now Google is threatened by a creature of its own making.

Three weeks ago, an experimental chatbot called ChatGPT made its case to be the industry’s next big disrupter. Using technology created by Google, ChatGPT can serve up information in clear, simple sentences, rather than just a list of internet links. It can explain concepts in ways people can easily understand.

Technology reporters Nico Grant and Cade Metz warn that chatbots threaten Google –somewhat akin to the monster swallowing up Frankenstein.

The release of ChatGPT led Google’s management to declare a “code red.” For Google, this was akin to pulling the fire alarm. Some fear the company may be approaching a moment the arrival of an enormous technological change that could upend the business.

Google’s chatbot received enormous attention in the summer when a Google engineer claimed it was sentient and should therefore have its “wants” respected.

The engineer must have been convinced that Google’s chatbot passed the Turing test. Alan Turing came up with the test in 1950 as a means of determining whether a machine can exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

For his temerity, Google fired the engineer.

Google may be reluctant to deploy this new tech as a replacement for online search because it is not suited to delivering digital ads -which accounted for more than 80 per cent of the company’s revenue last year.

“No company is invincible; all are vulnerable,” said Margaret O’Mara, a professor at the University of Washington who specializes in the history of Silicon Valley. “For companies that have become extraordinarily successful doing one market-defining thing, it is hard to have a second act with something entirely different.”

I decided to ask ChatGPT to write 100 words about the future of chatbots in 2023. Here’s what it came up with:

“It is difficult to predict exactly what the future will hold for chatbots in 2023, but it is likely that they will continue to evolve and improve. As natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning technologies advance, chatbots will become more sophisticated and able to understand and respond to a wider range of inputs.

“They may also become more integrated into everyday life, potentially being used in a variety of contexts such as customer service, healthcare, education, and more. It is also possible that chatbots will be used to facilitate communication and collaboration in a variety of settings, such as work teams or online communities.

“Ultimately, the future of chatbots will depend on the ways in which they are developed and utilized by businesses and individuals.”

Not bad, although it took 126 words and it’s a bit bland.

I don’t think chatbots will replace me any time soon. Or maybe I’ve already been channeled by forces that I’m unaware of?