Google’s Bard Moment

be radical Briefing | February 14th, 2023


Dear Friend,

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Read on for a perspective on the AI/Search wars and Google’s Bard moment.

Decode. Disrupt. Transform.

You might’ve heard that Google had a bad week – bad to the tune of a ~$130B USD drop in the stock price in just a few days. First, they got beaten to the punch and publicly shown up when Microsoft, long a borderline comical also-ran in the search space, announced its integration of an OpenAI-powered chatbot “co-pilot” for the Bing search engine. And then, in a spectacular self-own for the ages, Google rushed to demo a comparable chatbot integration, only for it to publicly misfire in responding to a question about the James Webb Space Telescope with a bullet-pointed answer that was about 33% bullshit.

The factual inaccuracy itself wasn’t remarkable. OpenAI’s ChatGPT makes stuff up, too – all the time. And in the big picture, $100B of theoretical money going poof won’t be nearly as important or transformative as what happens next. With that in mind, I’d argue that the real significance of last week’s chain of events was in the way that Google responded to the perceived threat. In a word, that response was… rushed. Rushed, sloppily executed, and pushed out with apparently minimal regard for the downside risk of unintended consequences.

If one were looking for an emblematic moment to capture the likely character of the generative AI arms race/land grab/shitshow to come, this would be a very strong early contender. The search space just might be a bellwether, and we’re witnessing a confluence there of potentially huge first-mover advantage + powerful/adaptable technology + tremendous hype in the market – all brewing up into a perfect storm of conditions for rushing to ship and scale products with limited vetting, flimsy guardrails, and likely insufficient regard for unintended consequences.

In short, the economics of the tech industry FOMO that was so well established in the social web age now look poised to push us all into an analogous “move fast & break things” era of generative AI. What could go wrong? 🙂 (via Jeffrey)

What We Are Reading

🙅 Banning Noncompetes Is Good for Innovation The US Federal Trade Commission’s proposed ban on noncompetes is long overdue. It’s not only good for workers but for companies and innovation in the long run. JaneRead

🫰 Research: The Complicated Effects of Pay Transparency Pay transparency is helping reduce pay inequities across gender, ethnicity, and other dimensions; however, it might result in lower compensation overall and reduce employee productivity. It all depends on how it is enacted. MafeRead

🤒 Why Are Layoffs Contagious? In “copycat” layoffs, some executives see an opportunity to downsize their labor force and a cover for unwinding poor strategic decisions. On the other hand, firms hiring behind the curve should see an opportunity to pick up high-value workers in the down market. JeffreyRead

🧑‍💻 OpenAI’s Hidden Weapon: Ex-Google Engineers Being among the big tech innovators, Google is facing an unusually strong challenger in OpenAI, in part due to Google talent moving to the smaller team for faster new product introduction. JulianRead

🤔 7 problems facing Bing, Bard, and the future of AI search Microsoft and Google announce the arrival of a new age in AI-powered search. However, as is often the case with technological advancements, this era presents numerous challenges, including the generation of false information, cultural conflicts, and big shifts in well-positioned industries (ex: ads!). PedroRead

😶‍🌫️ ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web Staying in the theme and looking at the input side of the equation reveals that systems like ChatGPT can only respond with a somewhat pastiche version of the world. PascalRead

The Thin Wisps of Tomorrow

🧑‍✈️ The top 20 dream jobs based on search data — pilots are still hot.

📠 ChatGPT (and its brethren) might be in a solid violation of data privacy laws.

🧬 Want to do some genetic engineering in your kitchen? Here is all you need.

🏖️ Arguably very geeky – and Uber-cool. For all the moms & dads out there: Here is your next project!

Internet Finds

This trip back down memory lane brings us incredible website designs from the late 90s and early 00s. 🌐

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: Lean Into The Future 🎧 Listen to the audio version

🧨 Disrupt Disruption: We dig deep into the learnings from thousands of startups, explore how corporates can better partner and work with entrepreneurs and their companies, and discuss common pitfalls to avoid with the amazing Mary Grove, Managing Partner at Bread and Butter in our latest episode of the podcast. Listen now.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe, Pedro, Vivian, and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)