In the AI arms race on display between Microsoft and Google, we are witnessing both companies demonstrating the Silicon Valley ethos of moving fast and breaking things. Breaking, as in disrupting Search by using AI, but also breaking Search by releasing offerings to the public that fail to deliver on their basic tenets - presumably with the intent to fix that later.
The stakes are high. Google faced the classic innovator's dilemma and chose to protect its Ad business revenue instead of capitalizing on its early lead in AI. Now they are trying to catch up. Microsoft sees an opportunity to supplant Google in Search. But in their rush to achieve a first-mover advantage, both Google and Microsoft seem prepared to release products that fail to provide the basics - accurate search results that users can trust. This runs the very real risk of undermining user confidence in the products and, by extension, the companies. Once that is lost, it can be hard to recover, will take time, and could open the door for competitors. We have already seen some repercussions. Google (Alphabet) recently suffered a $100 billion loss in market valuation in reaction to the Bard Chatbot providing incorrect answers. Cracks in Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot have also come to light - both in answer accuracy and uneven user experience through interacting with it.
Neither company's offering appears ready for prime time. Most certainly not as a fully released product, and not yet as even a minimum viable product. At a minimum, providing accurate responses that users can trust is fundamental to the viability of a search tool upon which users can rely. Not delivering that is a problem. Yet here we are. What is occurring now is premature beta testing on a massive scale without guardrails.
Is the technology impressive and disruptive?
Will Search be revolutionized?
Are we there yet?
No, not quite.
Disruption can be a good thing. How to disrupt responsibly requires forethought, and it needs to go hand-in-hand with a roadmap for building. I have worked on disruptive technologies and brought them to market, but first and foremost, I have always been more focused on building things of value for all stakeholders.
Originally published on Medium.