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Google Reportedly Moving DeepMind From Research to AI Products

Google AI Finds 800 Years of Industrial Materials in One Click

Google’s move to combine its AI teams has reportedly left employees feeling frustrated.

As Bloomberg Businessweek reported Monday (June 17), about two dozen Google employees interviewed say the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) “super-unit” — aimed at improving commercial AI products and carrying out AI research — is experiencing some growing pains.

The report notes that merging the divisions taps into what Google DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis has described as one of Google’s biggest strengths: the wealth of AI expertise it has on hand.

At the same time, sources told the news outlet that some researchers feel frustration with having to stick to guidelines they feel have been forced on them from on high. Two sources said the pressure has begun creating a sense of fatigue, worsened by the fact that Google’s Gemini AI model has run into a series of hiccups.

Hassabis told Bloomberg he’s learning more about launching products, while Google’s product teams, in turn, are grappling with the novel challenges of generative AI, which has the potential to behave in strange ways when offered to the public. 

“It’s different from normal technology products,” he said. “The underlying technology behaves differently, and has certain strengths or weaknesses. So I think it’s an interesting learning curve for all of us.”

Google combined DeepMind and the Brain team from Google Research last year into a new group called Google DeepMind. 

“The pace of progress is now faster than ever before,” CEO Sundar Pichai wrote at the time. “To ensure the bold and responsible development of general AI, we’re creating a unit that will help us build more capable systems more safely and responsibly.”

One year later, the company announced it was consolidating the teams focused on building AI models across Google Research and Google DeepMind, with this work now being done within Google DeepMind.

Pichai said in the note to employees that this move will “scale our capacity to deliver capable AI for our users, partners and customers.”

Meanwhile, a group of current and former Google DeepMind and OpenAI employees recently signed a public letter advocating for protection from retaliation when warning about the “serious risks” associated with AI the two companies are developing.

“AI companies possess substantial non-public information about the capabilities and limitations of their systems, the adequacy of their protective measures, and the risk levels of different kinds of harm,” the letter reads. 

“However, they currently have only weak obligations to share some of this information with governments, and none with civil society. We do not think they can all be relied upon to share it voluntarily.”