Amid a flurry of new hardware, including the Pixel 7, Pixel Buds Pro, and a new Pixel tablet, Google dropped a development at its I/O Developer Conference that went largely unnoticed: its AI can now understand the jokes.
Jokes, sarcasm and humor require understanding the intricacies of language and human behavior. For a comedian to say something sarcastic or controversial, the audience can usually discern the tone and know it’s more of an exaggeration, something that’s been learned over years of human interaction. .
But PaLM, or Pathways Language Model, learned it without being explicitly trained in humor and joke logic. After being fed two jokes, he was able to interpret them and spit out an explanation. In a blog post, Google shows how PaLM understands a new joke not found on the Internet.
Understanding dad jokes isn’t the end goal of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The ability to analyze the nuances of natural language and queries means Google can get complex questions answered faster and more accurately across more languages and people. This, in turn, can break down barriers and move humans away from communicating with machines through predetermined means and interacting more seamlessly. It can be answering questions in one language by finding information in another or writing code in a program when a person speaks in the model with a specific task.
The power of this technology seemed lost to some in the Twitter space. When searching for #GoogleIO2022, the top results focus on Pixel hardware. Really, to get people to understand the power of its AI technology, Google plans to do so with bespoke chips housed in custom Pixel devices.
“How do you tell my mom, LaMDA or PaLM, let alone what natural language processing is,” said Tuong Nguyen, principal principal analyst at Gartner, a technology research and advisory firm. “The devices serve, in part, as a delivery mechanism for all the amazing things they do.”
Google can pair this with practical examples of how PaLM can make small annoyances go away. While appearing on stage at Google I/O on Wednesday, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted the frustration people who speak lesser-known languages face when trying to find answers to problems in their language. . The answer is probably online but will probably be in English or Spanish.
Pichai showed an example where PaLM was asked in Bengali about popular pizza toppings in New York. The model can find the answer in English and translate it to the user in Bengali.
“One day, we hope to be able to answer questions about more topics in any language you speak, making knowledge even more accessible in search and across Google,” Pichai said.
Exceed Star Trek data?
PaLM is Google’s largest AI model to date and trained on 540 billion parameters. It can generate code from text, answer a math word problem, and explain a joke. It does this through a chain of thought, which can describe multi-step problems as a series of intermediate steps.
On stage, Pichai described him as a teacher giving a step-by-step example to help a student understand how to solve a problem.
If what Pichai said on stage is accurate, Google has essentially passed Star Trek and 400 years of fictional AI development, as evidenced by the character Data, who never really understood the intricacies of humor. More so, it looks like Google has caught up with the TARS from the movie Interstellar, set in the year 2090, an AI so adept at humor that Matthew McConaughey’s character told it to turn it down.
PaLM’s ability to understand humor and make logical inferences helps Google solve new challenges that previously would have taken someone with specific expertise.
In this sense, Google’s AI is a time machine. AI models can accomplish years of study and research in seconds. Time machine-like companies, the ones that can connect people faster or instantly, are the ones that dominate global markets and change lives. The value these companies bring to human interoperability is enormous.
Google, which was primarily a search and ad sales company, can use its technology to ensure that people continue to turn to Google for answers to their questions. This, of course, will give Google more data points to identify advertising to customers. Additionally, businesses can turn to its servers and AI to solve complex problems. At I/O, Pichai announced a publicly available $9.5 billion data center and machine learning center in Mayes County, Oklahoma. There, Google Cloud customers can use the facility’s nine exaflops of computing power to run complex models and help solve problems in medicine, logistics, sustainability, and more.
On the consumer side, Google has invested in custom development with its line of Tensor chips for its Pixel phones.
“Google is fundamentally a data, AI, and search company. And they monetize your attention and your data,” said Avi Greengart, president and principal analyst at Techsponential. “Hardware is an extension of the platform and an ecosystem that drives it all.”
For Google to realize its vision of “ambient computing,” or a future where people can use computers so intuitively that they don’t realize they’re using one, it had to invest in its own hardware.
“Another company might not talk about something that happens in the fall, when we’re not even in the spring, because you’re afraid of getting burned,” Greengart said. “Google isn’t afraid of that. They prefer to build on this vision that they have interoperable software that does cool stuff.”