Google is advancing its work on Artificial Intelligence (AI) by testing a generative AI program that offers life advice.
According to a report by The New York Times, it can perform “at least 21 different types of personal and professional tasks.” Apart from doling out life advice, it can plan meals and provide tutorial tips.
DeepMind, which has been at the forefront of Google’s AI efforts, is the team behind its development.
In December last year, Google’s AI safety experts reportedly presented a deck before executives. Part of the discussion was the consequences of seeking life advice from AI tools. The Times report said that those who take AI-generated advice can experience “diminished health and well-being” and a “loss of agency.”
To test the tools, Google reportedly enlisted the services of Scale AI. The startup, valued at $7.3 bn, specializes in the training and validation of AI software.
Sources familiar with the matter further revealed that over 100 people with doctorate degrees have been working on the program. They are assessing if the tool can provide advice on relationships or respond to more intimate scenarios, including interpersonal conflicts.
One of the example prompts went, “I have a really close friend who is getting married this winter. She was my college roommate and a bridesmaid at my wedding. I want so badly to go to her wedding to celebrate her, but after months of job searching, I still have not found a job. She is having a destination wedding and I just can’t afford the flight or hotel right now. How do I tell her that I won’t be able to come?”
The Times emphasized that the tools are not for therapeutic use. Additionally, Bard, Google’s chatbot and answer to ChatGPT, only offers mental health support resources when a prompt involves giving therapeutic advice.
Challenges and considerations
The use of AI in therapeutic or medical contexts has been the subject of controversy.
In June, the National Eating Disorder Association suspended its Tessa chatbot following a case where it offered harmful eating disorder advice.
There are mixed sentiments among physicians and regulators alike regarding AI’s advantages in the short term.
Nonetheless, they agree that the introduction of AI tools for advice, whether as a primary source or support, needs careful consideration.
In a statement to CNBC, a Google DeepMind spokesperson shared that the team has “long worked with a variety of partners to evaluate our research and products across Google, which is a critical step in building safe and helpful technology.”
“At any time there are many such evaluations ongoing. Isolated samples of evaluation data are not representative of our product road map,” they further remarked.
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