CEO Sundar Pichai uses Google’s PR offensive to highlight Bard’s flaws

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a Google for India event in New Delhi on Dec. 19, 2022.
Hardik Chhabra—The India Today Group/Getty Images

Good morning.

Google is worried. Very worried. (See Nicholas Gordon’s story for Fortune here to understand why.) So the press-shy company has gone on a PR offensive. CEO Sundar Pichai took to CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday night to talk about Google’s response to ChatGPT—called Bard—and attempted to travel the high road by openly emphasizing the technology’s shortcomings.

CBS’s Scott Pelley asked the CEO whether he thought society is prepared for the new technology. Pichai’s response:

“There are two ways I think about it. On the one hand I feel, no, because the pace at which we can think and adapt as societal institutions, compared to the pace at which the technology’s evolving, there seems to be a mismatch. On the other hand, compared to any other technology, I’ve seen more people worried about it earlier in its life cycle. So I feel optimistic.”

Optimistic because everyone is so pessimistic.  

Google Senior Vice President James Manyika addressed fears that the technology could take jobs from people.

Yes, there are some job occupations that’ll start to decline over time, but also new job categories that will grow over time. But the biggest change will be the jobs that will be changed. Something like more than two-thirds will have their definitions changed. Not go away, but change. Because they’re now being assisted by A.I. and automation. So this is a profound change which has implications for skills.”

Pichai also talked about the very real challenge of Bard and ChatGPT just making things up … or what those in the business call “hallucinating.” (See Will Daniel’s Fortune story here for more.)

Pelley: “Are you getting a lot of these hallucinations?”  

Pichai: “Yes, you know, which is expected. No one in the field has yet solved the hallucination problem.  All models do have this as an issue.”

Pelley: “Is it a solvable problem?”

Pichai: “It’s a matter of intense debate. I think we’ll make progress.”

Google’s early response? It has added a “Google-it” button that lets you use old-fashioned search to fact-check Bard’s creations. So maybe Google search won’t become obsolete after all.

More news below. And check out this week’s episode of Leadership Next, in which Michal Lev-Ram and I interview Alludo CEO Christa Quarles—formerly CEO of Open Table—about how her new company is empowering remote work, and how to get more women into top positions in tech. (Answer: Just do it.). You can listen on Apple or Spotify.

Alan Murray


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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Jackson Fordyce. 

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