Need a life coach? Google's AI could soon be the answer

Amidst rife competition from the likes of OpenAI, Baidu, and Microsoft, Google looks into the possibility of creating innovative tools using generative AI to create personalized life coaches.
Amal Jos Chacko
Representational image of an AI life coach.jpg
Representational image of an AI life coach.


In the ever-intensifying race to dominate the field of artificial intelligence, tech giant Google has been making significant strides to stand at the forefront. 

Earlier this year, Google merged its London-based research lab, DeepMind, with its Silicon Valley-based artificial intelligence team, Brain, marking a pivotal move in its endeavor to harness generative AI technology. 

This strategic convergence has resulted in the creation of innovative tools with the potential to transform generative AI into personalized life coaches. You heard that right. 

A shift in strategy and the testing of boundaries

This latest venture signifies a notable departure from Google's previous cautionary stance towards generative AI. A slide deck presented to executives last year had highlighted concerns about the emotional attachment of users to chatbots, reports The New York Times.

However, Google's position has seemingly shifted, perhaps prompted by the rapid advancements in the AI landscape— one that was largely dominated and pioneered by Google until the successful launch of competitors like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Determined to prove its mettle and grab back the reins, Google has spent the past nine months rolling out its own AI system, Bard, and integrating it into various products, such as search engines and Gmail. One significant aspect of this venture involves testing the assistant's aptitude in responding to deeply personal inquiries. 

A team of experts, including over 100 individuals with doctorates across diverse fields, has been assembled by Scale AI, a contractor collaborating with Google DeepMind, to evaluate these capabilities. 

The project's ambition extends to generating ideas, offering tutoring services, and assisting in planning, hinting at the broad spectrum of tasks that generative AI could potentially perform.

Balancing innovation and ethical concerns

While Google's pursuit of cutting-edge AI applications is apparent, the company remains cautious about the potential pitfalls of relying too heavily on AI for life advice. 

In a presentation in December, Google's AI safety experts expressed concerns about users' well-being and the possibility of them becoming overly dependent on AI systems. 

In a similar vein, certain applications, such as medical, financial, and legal advice, are still off-limits due to the sensitive nature of the information.

Google's exploration of AI's capabilities doesn't end with personal coaching alone. 

The company has also ventured into the domain of journalism, creating software named Genesis that can generate, rewrite, and suggest headlines for news articles. 

This software has since been pitched to executives at The Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. *Gulp*

DeepMind's evaluation of tools for scientific, creative, and professional writing, as well as data extraction from text, holds the potential to revolutionize journalism and various other industries.

Google is mindful of the implications of extensive reliance on generative AI. The company's AI safety experts have pointed out the potential risk of "deskilling" creative writers and the economic consequences of such technologies. 

As the boundaries of generative AI continue to expand, questions surrounding human agency, technology dependency, and ethical considerations come to the forefront. And it remains to be seen how the company addresses these.