ALphabet is pulling up its socks as it looks to take on the AI challenge that’s been posed to it by Microsoft-OpenAI.
Alphabet has merged two of its giant AI initiatives, Google Brain and Deepmind. Google Brain is Google’s homegrown AI initiative, while it had acquired British company Deepmind in 2014. Both are stalwarts in their fields — Google Brain is behind some world-class research, such as the invention of the transformer which forms the basis of much of generative AI, and Deepmind’s AI had famously beaten the best human players at Go.
“We’ve been lucky to have two world-class research teams leading the entire industry forward with foundational breakthroughs that have ushered in a new era of AI,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “The pace of progress is now faster than ever before. To ensure the bold and responsible development of general AI, we’re creating a unit that will help us build more capable systems more safely and responsibly,” he added.
“Together, in close collaboration with our fantastic colleagues across the Google Product Areas, we have a real opportunity to deliver AI research and products that dramatically improve the lives of billions of people, transform industries, advance science, and serve diverse communities,” said Deepmind’s Demis Hassabis.
Deepmind co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis will the new entity. Google legend Jeff Dean, who had been leading Google Brain, has been promoted to the position of Google’s Chief Scientist to both Google Brain and Deepmind, and will report directly to Sundar Pichai.
This is a pretty significant development for Google, and the AI world in general. For years, Google had carried with it two separate AI initiatives, and they largely worked independently of each other. It had been reported that relations between the two teams were frosty, and they rarely collaborated with one another. Since ChatGPT’s release though, the teams had buried their differences and were working together on a GPT-4 rival that would have as many as 1 trillion parameters.
But putting together two large teams — that were once rivals — isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Google will need some nifty management chops to merge Google Brain and Deepmind, and ensure that they’re able to complement and build on each other’s capabilities. However, if Google can utilize their synergies, and get all engineers pulling in the same direction, it can have a powerful weapon in its arsenal as it looks to take on the challenge posed by other tech giants in the AI space.