Google’s YouTube will incorporate new generative artificial intelligence (AI) features into its video-sharing platform, as the internet giant hastens to keep up with artificial intelligence rivals such as OpenAI Inc. and Microsoft Corp. — both of which have rolled out their own consumer-friendly products such as AI chatbots and image-creating services.
“The power of AI is just beginning to emerge in ways that will reinvent video and make the seemingly impossible possible,” Neal Mohan wrote in his first missive to the YouTube community since taking over as chief executive officer of the video service last month. He explained that YouTube creators will soon be able to virtually swap outfits in videos or create “fantastical film settings” through AI’s generative capabilities “in coming months.”
Alphabet Inc.-owned Google is under increasing pressure to release generative AI products — services that can generate detailed text answers or create brand-new images based on information they’ve ingested from the internet and other digital sources. Though Google has long been seen as a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence research, some critics have said the company has been too slow to roll out its own tools and services that are ready for public consumption. Meanwhile, rivals in recent months have released wildly popular products, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft Corp.’s new Bing chatbot, gaining mainstream favour in spite of concerns that freewheeling conversations and scripts they generate can sometimes be inaccurate, belligerent or bizarre.
Google announced its own ChatGPT competitor, called Bard, in early February, amid a digital-ad slowdown and speculation that AI-powered chatbots could upend the company’s flagship internet-search business. Last year, Google declared a “code red” shortly after ChatGPT’s release — a move akin to pulling a fire alarm internally, sending the company’s AI engineers scrambling for a response.
YouTube’s Mohan, for his part, signalled that Google would retain some of its reflexive caution. In his note to the YouTube community, he underscored that the company would take the time to develop its generative AI features “with thoughtful guardrails” as well as “protections to embrace this technology responsibly.”