Last week was a huge week for artificial intelligence announcements as both Google and Microsoft put their AI-aided search engines into beta and limited public release respectively.
Surely they implemented Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, right? I mean… right?
At least the first one?
Now, you may be wondering, where’s Apple’s AI chatbot thing I can totally talk to and it’ll be my one true friend and then EVERYONE WILL SEE, OH, YES, THEY WILL.
First of all, too much, Kevin. Dial it back a little. We talked about this. Second, the primary hook for these latest technologies is search and Apple isn’t a search company. At least not ostensibly and at least not yet.
The Macalope says “ostensibly” because whether or not Apple is a “search company”, people rely on its products for search results. When the Macalope asks Siri for places nearby where ungulates like to mingle, he doesn’t know which company’s search engine Apple sends that query to, he just knows that Siri responded “I’m having trouble connecting right now.”
So, that’s it, then. Apple is behind because it needs to provide advanced search results and both Microsoft and Google have (or will have soon) conversational search capabilities that Apple does not have! It’s game over again in the game that never ends!
Well, hang on a second.
As of three years ago, Apple was “leading the AI arms race” in terms of acquisitions. And it’s gone on to acquire several AI companies since then. Have those acquisitions amounted to anything? Hard to say because Apple tends to hold things closer to the vest than other companies.
Before you worry too much about Apple being late to this game, though, so far it seems like it’s turning out just like every other time we’ve been told Apple’s been late to something, from netbooks to foldable phones to self-driving cars.
“Google’s Bard AI bot mistake wipes $100bn off shares”
Whoopsies. Yes, it turns out that Bard mistakenly answered that the James Webb Space Telescope was the first telescope to take a picture of a planet outside our solar system when in fact it was the European Very Large Telescope (the Macalope knows that sounds like a fake name but he assures you it’s not) way back in 2004. That wouldn’t be so bad except it was featured in an ad touting how super awesome Bard is.
The Macalope is not an advertising executive but he has to believe that’s not ideal, even though not that many people are experts on space telescopes.
The Macalope is, of course, but perhaps not… uh, you people.
Well, at least everything’s going fine with Bing, right?
Ha. Ha. Haaaaaaaaaaaa.
While Bard is simply misinformed, Bing’s shiny new AI is misinformed and rude! According to multiple threads on Reddit, Bing not only gets answers wrong, it becomes incensed when challenged on the accuracy of its false statements, such as when it insisted that the current year was 2022.
The Verge says that when Bing gets things wrong, you can click on a “dislike” button. As if arguing with an AI over what year it is isn’t dystopian enough, now your only recourse is to “dislike” the wrong answer rather than point out it’s simply flat-out wrong.
…According to a Bing engineer I spoke to at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters, dislikes are currently being routed to engineers’ inboxes to fix inaccuracies and improve Microsoft’s model. That’s not a feedback loop that can scale over time…
Yes, even Bing gets enough search requests on a daily basis that having humans clean up a robot’s mess is not scalable. Clearly what Microsoft needs to do is have another AI answer the “dislikes” and then talk to Bing about them and the two of them can get into an argument until the heat death of the universe.
The horny one has a sneaking suspicion that the real solution to the problems companies find in their AIs is going to be to fix the obvious problems but still ship them in a slightly broken state, because if a few people get the wrong answer like how many kidneys they need to survive or whether or not storming a government building can get you out of paying your taxes, well, oopsie doopsies, gotta move fast and break things.
They did that with netbooks, they did that with foldable phones, they did that with self-driving cars. AI will be no different.
Will these technologies get better over time? Of course. But if Apple stays out of this arena for a while and is even a little “behind”, that might not be such a bad thing after all.