Google unveils how it plans to build AI into its Search Engine

Google’s search service may never be the same.

At the company’s annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View Wednesday, executives at the Alphabet Inc.-owned business showed off advancements in artificial intelligence its engineers plan to use to revamp its search engine.

Officials unveiled PaLM 2, the next generation of the technology that powers Google’s AI software. PaLM 2 — which is short for the second generation of its Pathways Language Model — will have multilingual functions, reasoning and computer coding capabilities, company officials said. Google plans to integrate the technology into its lucrative search engine, its office products, its cloud business and other areas, executives said at the in-person event.

“As an AI-first company, we are at an exciting inflection point,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said. He continued: “We are reimagining all our core products, including search.”

Company officials didn’t say exactly when it plans to integrate AI into its services, saying only it planned to debut its AI-enhanced search service inc “coming weeks.”

PaLM 2 is a kind of generative AI, the latest version of the technology that can produce text, speech, audio and software code that mimics what human create.

The company’s move to integrate PaLM 2 into its products follows the instant success earlier this year of OpenAI LLC’s ChatGPT chatbot — which is based on competing generative AI technology — and Microsoft’s decision to integrate OpenAI’s tech into its Bing search engine.

With the AI-powered Bing posing one of the first potential challenges to Google’s search supremacy in more than a decade, Pichai effectively declared a state of emergency at Alphabet, directing the company’s teams to focus on its own AI technology. Google’s engineers and executives have been working at a feverish pitch ever since to roll out and develop new products built around it. The new features the company debuted at its I/O developer represent one of its first major responses to the threat from ChatGPT and Bing.

The company’s revamped search service integrates a chat-like interface. That interface can generate text information, which Google displays above results from its maps or shopping services. In one example, Google engineering vice president Cathy Edwards asked the search service for the best bicycle to purchase for a commute of roughly five miles. The revamped search engine displayed an ad for a new bicycle atop a block of text answering her query.

Although that demonstration may have offered a glimpse into the company’s thinking about how to incorporate its advertising business into its remade search service, executives offered few details. The company’s search and related businesses generated $40.1 billion in sales in the first quarter, or about 58% of its total revenue for the period.

During their two-hour presentation, company executives also unveiled Duet AI for Google Workspace, Google’s attempt to integrate its generative AI technology into its suite of office applications.

The company plans to create different sized versions of its PaLM 2 AI model, including a small one that could be used on a mobile device even when the device doesn’t have internet access.

Alphabet’s shares (Nasdaq: GOOGL) jumped roughly 3% after company executives took the stage at about 10 a.m. Pacific Time. They closed Wednesday up 4.1% to $111.75. The company’s stock price has gained 27% this year; the benchmark S&P 500 index is up 7.9% over the same period.

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