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.
EY is set to cut 3,000 jobs in the U.S. to tackle “overcapacity” in the consulting side of its business amid slumping demand. The cuts account for roughly 5% of its U.S. workforce. Financial Times
Boomerang CEO bust
Bob Iger at Disney, Sergio Ermotti at UBS, and Howard Schultz at Starbucks all embody the trend of 'boomerang' CEOs returning to their former companies. Boards luring former CEOs back are seeking a known quantity, but experts say the move is a sign of dysfunction, and research shows the annual stock performance of past boomerang CEOs was 10% lower than their first-time peers. Fortune
No rest for the retiree
American workers are reevaluating their retirement savings targets as the cost of living in the U.S. continues to rise. According to the Schroders 2023 U.S. Retirement Survey, those aged 45 and older estimate they will need $1.1 million for a comfortable retirement, while Millennials surveyed say their target is $1.3 million. Fortune
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
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Google’s search dominance made it complacent—until now by David Meyer
Janet Yellen says the banking meltdown could actually do the Fed’s work for it: Lower inflation without sparking a recession by Tristan Bove
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Elon Musk’s aging Tesla sedans will soon face fresh competition from an unlikely corner by Christiaan Hetzner
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Jackson Fordyce.
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