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Now Google to shove its answer to ChatGPT into Gmail, Docs, apps via APIs, more

PaLM springs forth

Google has promised to offer API-level access to its large language model PaLM so that developers can build it into their apps and workflows, and thus make the ChatGPT-like text-emitting tech available to world-plus-dog.

The web giant is also threatening to bake the model's content-generating capabilities into Google Docs, Gmail, and more. 

The generative AI hype is stirring the technology industry into a frenzy. Investors are throwing cash at startups, while Big Tech scrambles to roll out products and services powered by these models. Everyone has to be seen to have skin in the game if they're to be considered successful and cutting edge.

Microsoft kicked off a fierce competition with Google when it decided to revamp Bing to include a web-based OpenAI-powered chatbot that answers search queries, and now the Gmail giant is fighting back – or playing catch up, depending on how you look at it.

On Tuesday, Google unveiled its PaLM API, opening up its text-generating large language model to developers looking to boost their applications with auto-generated machine-made writing and other stuff. It's capable of summarizing and classifying text, acting as a support chat bot that interacts with folks on behalf of your organization, and other things, just like the other APIs out there from OpenAI, Cohere, and AI21 Labs.

Sometimes the AI gets things wrong, sometimes it delights you with something offbeat, and oftentimes it requires guidance

"As we've experimented with generative AI ourselves, one thing is clear: AI is no replacement for the ingenuity, creativity, and smarts of real people," said Johanna Voolich Wright, veep of product at Google Workspace, today.

"Sometimes the AI gets things wrong, sometimes it delights you with something offbeat, and oftentimes it requires guidance."

PaLM API also comes with MakerSuite, a tool that allows developers to experiment with the model by trying different prompts to fine-tune the model's output. These software services are available to a select few, however, for the moment: Google is gradually rolling them out.

The internet goliath promises that general users can look forward to eventually being able to automatically generate email drafts and replies, as well as summarize text. Images, audio, and video created using the AI engine will be available to add to Slides, whilst better autocomplete is coming to Sheets. New backgrounds and note-generating features are also coming to Meet. 

Although Google was at the forefront of AI research, it has been criticized for being slow at commercializing its models for developers and netizens to generally use. On the other hand, Microsoft, powered by OpenAI's technology, is rushing to integrate next-level machine-learning code into its products – such as the super-hyped ChatGPT into Azure, or that chat bot in Bing – even if they don't always work as intended or get details disastrously wrong

Microsoft has been steadily deploying AI-powered features for its Office 365 products, and is set to announce further capabilities for its workspace messaging software Teams, Word, and email Outlook this week in a March 16 event titled "the future of work with AI."

Also today, OpenAI teased GPT-4, and Anthropic is said to be readying a rival called Claude. We're told that the overhauled Bing search engine uses a customized GPT-4.

Millions of people now have access to the OpenAI-flavored Bing, we note, all while Microsoft continues to tinker with the model and adjust the limits and guardrails on how users can interact with the chatbot.

Google's upcoming rival Bard model is still under wraps for now. If Microsoft does make its upcoming AI-writing tools for Word or Outlook available for general use sooner rather than later, Google will be one step behind yet again. You might fault Google for being overly cautious, or you might feel some relief that it's going slow with this powerful, unpredictable and at times questionable technology. ®

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