Forever greets the marmot and it is always Europe. As we enter 2023, it’s becoming pretty clear what the next great race for technological advancement will be. Europe will not be at the forefront.
The playing field on which this race is played is the generative AI, i.e. systems like ChatGPT. At the end of last year, the OpenAI chatbot heralded the change from AI to a basic technology for the general public. It will increasingly support us humans in writing texts, generating images, creating art or coding software. She will be able to take on more and more on her own as she becomes more productive.
ChatGPT can still be tried out free of charge in the beta version, but of course the next billion market beckons here. OpenAI has already opened a waiting list for those interested in the “ChatGPT Professional” payment service.
Also, the company plans to release the much more powerful GPT-4 model earlier this year. This may be the step from a pure language model to a multimodal model that can work with images, text and video. That would be the next bomb, detonated in a market whose rules are being rewritten.
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Microsoft is obviously betting on winning the race. The tech giant is already heavily invested in OpenAI, but plans to spend another $10 billion to increase its stake to 49 percent. 75 percent of all profits from OpenAI should go to Microsoft until the investment is recouped. That’s a good move economically. Strategically much more. Microsoft apparently wants to integrate ChatGPT into the hitherto bobbing search engine Bing.
This is a challenge from Google with the caption: We’re reinventing web search. It won’t be that easy, because ChatGPT hasn’t exactly shined with reliable information so far. The chatbot spits out nonsense with great self-confidence, for example that Angela Merkel is still chancellor or that a spoon runs faster than a rabbit. When searching the Internet, correct information and precision are expected. But with the next versions of ChatGPT, the game can change quickly here.
Google currently has a global market share of almost 85 percent, Bing one of almost nine percent – a lot of fighting ground for a search engine that suddenly reinvents searches through conversations with a bot.
Thousands of app developers are working to use the bot’s arts for everyday communication. At the same time, Microsoft is planning to integrate ChatGPT into its own Office package. Texts, e-mails and presentations are now a few voice prompts away. With a world market share in office software shared almost equally between Microsoft and Google, this will be an exciting race.
AI language models: Europe is lagging behind
Because of course Google never sleeps. The company took over DeepMind in 2014, i.e. OpenAI’s direct competitor. The research offshoot has long been profitable and generates billions in sales. With “Gato”, DeepMind has developed a multimodal AI model, i.e. a multitasker that can deal with text, images and video and solve a wide variety of tasks. It has recently made headlines with language models such as LaMDA and PaLM, and this year the company plans to launch its own chatbot called “Sparrow”.
>> Read also: OpenAI: From AI rebel to billion-dollar start-up
There are also some companies in China that want to play in the market. This is a little more complicated because the cultural differences in the training data make it difficult to deliver it to the global market and because the Chinese government imposes strict rules on generative systems. But with Baidu, Tencent and IDEA, three major players are offering AI models and applications that show China won’t leave the race to the US. Israel also has its own player at the start with the AI21 Labs.
And Europe? There is LEAM (Large European AI Models), an initiative of European AI organizations, including the German AI Bundesrat, supported by numerous companies. The initiative aims to promote the development of large language models in Europe. On January 24, it will present a “feasibility study”.
Incidentally, LEAM is an anagram of the English “lame” – translated “lame”. While the race for the podium is on in other parts of the world, the groundhog has at least woken up. It’s still a lame duck.
In this column, Miriam Meckel writes fortnightly about ideas, innovations and interpretations that make progress and a better life possible. Because what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls a butterfly. ada-magazin.com
More: The new dimension of thinking