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Google Adds More AI

FILE: A woman makes copies at the Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) office in Accra on April 10, 2019. - This center is the first AI center established in Africa by Google.

SAN FRANCISCO - Google is expected to enrich its popular online services with more artificial intelligence on Wednesday as it scrambles to catch up with rival Microsoft despite fears that AI poses a threat to society.

Most attention will focus on Google's expected release of a more muscular version of its Bard generative AI being put to work across the platform.

Leaks ahead of the internet titan's annual developers conference have revealed that Google will also show off new gadgets, including a foldable smartphone, and reveal additions to its Pixel line of devices.

Google is expected to follow suit in AI announcements at its annual "I/O" software developers conference held a short walk from its headquarters in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.

A more powerful large language model built into the heart of Bard will likely be unveiled, along with expanded use of the AI powers in Gmail, work software, search and more, according to media reports.

Large language models involve machine learning applied to massive amounts of data harvested from the internet.

Generative AI can be prompted to quickly deliver written tasks from poetry and homework to computer code. It can also be prompted to create images or video.

Microsoft upped the pressure last week by expanding public access to its generative AI programs - including the Bing chatbot - that have put the company founded by Bill Gates back on the map as a big tech disruptor.

The services have been enhanced with the ability to work with images as well as text, and Microsoft intends to add video to the mix, according to executives.

Risks from AI include its potential uses for fraud, with voice clones, deep-fake videos and convincing written messages.

A prominent computer scientist dubbed "the godfather of artificial intelligence,"
Geoffrey Hinton, said at a recent MIT forum that it makes sense to halt the development of AI, but added that the idea is a non-starter given the intense competition between countries and companies involved in the sector.

Hinton, who created some of the technology underlying AI systems, maintained that the existential threat from AI is "serious and close."

A range of experts in March urged a pause in the development of powerful AI systems to allow time to make sure they are safe.

Their open letter, signed by more than 1,000 people, including tech billionaire Elon Musk and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, was prompted by generative AI technology from Microsoft-backed firm OpenAI.