Larry Magid: A big week for generative AI

This has been a big week for generative AI (GAI), the technology that can answer questions or create content based on a user’s prompt.

Both OpenAI and Google announced major updates to their GAI products. OpenAI has released its new ChatGPT 4o (the o stands for “omni”) while Google has announced several updates to its AI products, including its Gemini chatbot that the company is integrating into the ubiquitous Google search engine.

ChatGPT 4o offers multiple modalities for text, vision and audio and is being upgraded to not only understand the human voice in multiple languages but engage in a conversation. You can even interrupt it while it’s speaking or displaying text with follow-up questions or comments.

In a demonstration video, OpenAI’s Mira Murati and colleagues showed how the new version not only speaks but understands and expresses emotions. The demo had a very natural sounding female voice that was expressive, emotive and even humorous at times. It would be easy to think you’re talking with a real person if you didn’t know it was a computer. It’s so lifelike that I worry that some people may forget it’s a machine and not a living person.

In addition to answering questions, ChatGPT is now able to analyze what it’s looking at. In the video, a person pointed his phone’s camera to a computer screen displaying computer code and got ChatGPT to describe the code and what it can do. In another example, the person asked ChatGPT to help him with math by giving him steps, not answers. Using its friendly voice, ChatGPT was amazingly patient and helpful, making me think it has a future as a teacher or tutor.  Of course, this was a demonstration not a hands-on review, so as impressive as it was, the real proof will come when people have a chance to try it in the real world.

In addition to new capabilities, ChatGPT 4o is much faster and is available for free, though there will continue to be a paid version for those who want more features or are heavy users. The company is also releasing an application interface (API) that will enable independent developers to incorporate ChatGPT 4o into other products. Those apps and service, in the long run, may be more powerful and widely used than whatever OpenAI offers directly to the public.

Google puts AI into search and other products

At its Google I/O developers conference, Google announced enhancements to its Gemini AI chatbot as well as further integration of generative AI into Google search. Search, which has historically been a way for Google to direct people toward helpful websites, is morphing into a tool that will provide answers directly rather than just links.

In her presentation at Google I/O, Google’s VP and head of Search, Liz Reid described what the company calls AI Overviews as “Whatever’s on your mind, whatever you need to get done, just ask, and Google will do the googling for you.”  The process will enable users to “ask your most complex questions, with …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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