By Jeffrey Dastin
MOUNTAIN VIEW, California, May 10 (Reuters) – The financial report you read, the apparel marketing you see and the chat assistant you engage may soon reflect a common origin: artificial intelligence from Google.
The cloud division inside Alphabet Inc is lining up customers to put its newest technology to the test, the so-called generative AI that produces human-like processes or other content from past data.
Deutsche Bank AG, Uber Technologies Inc and a unit of Victoria’s Secret & Co are among the companies giving Google’s tools a try, the company told Reuters for its I/O conference on Wednesday in Mountain View, California.
Customers are applying Google’s technology in ways both expected, such as a customer-service chatbot for Uber, and unusual, including AI to handle drive-thru orders at a Wendy’s Co fast-food restaurant in Ohio.
Their interest comes at a critical moment for Google. Its cloud division posted its first-ever operating profit last quarter, and the AI technology that Google pioneered may help it narrow the gap with bigger players Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp.
Alphabet announced still more updates on Wednesday to draw business customers, such as a computer programming assistant called Duet AI for Google Cloud, with a model it named Codey.
At the same time, clients are previewing its AI services on a free basis, Google said. Its rivals are marketing competing products, too, to companies reluctant to leave them. And Google is contending with a nascent challenge to its search business from Microsoft and partner OpenAI, which built the ChatGPT phenomenon.
In an interview with Reuters, Google Cloud’s CEO. Thomas Kurian, said Alphabet’s AI models were drawing interest from new and old customers, among them clients of its competitors.
“They want our access to our models,” he said. Then “they started a relationship.”
One of the companies deepening its work with Google while still relying on Microsoft for productivity tools is Deutsche Bank. Bernd Leukert, its chief technology, data and innovation officer, said the bank is targeting a range of tasks to automate with the help of Google’s engineers and its so-called large language models.
Deutsche Bank wants this AI to lower costs in call centers where it needs temporary personnel for peak periods and workers to handle menial tasks, he said in an interview. And it is exploring if Google’s AI can craft research drawings from economic data, market reports and other content, to provide the bank’s customers and staff, said Leukert.
“The faster you can consume this huge amount of external information, condense it and draw the conclusion out of it, the better it is,” he said. Asked about errors by AI, Leukert said research analysts would have to validate and edit material pre-publication, as the bank would take “a very conservative approach.”
Deutsche Bank will decide by October which of these projects are mature enough to move forward, he said.
Other companies using the technology include Adore Me, the Victoria’s Secret unit drafting ad copy with AI in Google Docs, Kurian said. The Wendy’s pilot beginning in June has helped Google stress-test its systems as well.
“You’ve heard about these hallucinating generative models, right?” he said, referring to how they can spout inaccurate information. At Wendy’s, “you don’t want the model to recommend a product that may not exist.”
(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Mountain View, California Editing by Matthew Lewis)