Sundar Pichai on Google layoffs, AI plans and when his company ‘got it wrong’ - Hindustan Times
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Sundar Pichai on Google layoffs, AI plans and when his company ‘got it wrong’

May 09, 2024 08:17 AM IST

On making tough decisions at Google, Sundar Pichai said, “The reality I think is quite different."

Sundar Pichai asserted that artificial intelligence (AI) has been a key focus of Google parent Alphabet since 2016. In a conversation with The Circuit, he said, “We weren’t the first company to do search. We weren’t the first company to do email. We weren’t the first company to build a browser. So I view this AI as we are in the earliest possible stages.”

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc., during an interview on "The Circuit with Emily Chang" at Google's Bay View campus in Mountain View, California, US.(Bloomberg)
Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc., during an interview on "The Circuit with Emily Chang" at Google's Bay View campus in Mountain View, California, US.(Bloomberg)

Acknowledging recent hiccups like the controversy over images generated by Google's Gemini, Sundar Pichai said, “We got it wrong. From the ground up we are retraining these models, just to make sure we are also making the product better. As soon as it’s ready, we will get it out to people.”

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Sundar Pichai on Google's future and how search has changed

Talking about Google's future, he said that getting search right is essential to the company since ads placed among search results push $300 billion in annual revenue. He explained, “We’ve always found people want choices, including in commercial areas, and that’s a fundamental need. We’ve been experimenting with ads and the data we see show that those fundamental principles will hold true.”

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“People are trying to solve problems in their day-to-day lives. A lot of our products integrate in a way that provides value for our users. The way Google is approaching AI drives innovation, adds choice in the market. That’s how I think about it,” he said, adding, “The challenge for everyone and the opportunity is: How do you have a notion of what’s objective and real in a world where there’s going to be a lot of synthetic content? I think it’s part of what will define search in the next decade ahead.”

Sundar Pichai on difficult conversations at Google

On making tough decisions at Google, Sundar Pichai said, “The reality I think is quite different. I think the larger the company is, you are making fewer consequential decisions, but they need to be clear and you have to point the whole company to that.”

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Sundar Pichai on Google layoffs

Google has been recently laid off dozens of engineers who protested the company’s cloud contract with the Israeli government and Sundar Pichai described this as an unacceptable disruption of daily business. He said, “It has nothing to do with the matter or the topic they’re discussing. It’s about the conduct of how they went about it. I view, particularly in this moment with AI, the opportunity we have ahead of us is immense, but it needs a real focus on our mission.”

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