14 May 2024

Google I/O: Tech conference expected to be dominated by AI

14 May 2024

Google is expected to unveil a string of new artificial intelligence-powered features when it opens its annual developer conference later on Tuesday.

Google I/O is the traditional launch point for major updates to the technology giant’s key products and services – including Search, Maps, YouTube and the Android software that powers many smartphones and tablets.

This year’s event in California is widely expected to see the company talk at length about how it is integrating generative AI into its products, having launched its revamped AI chatbot, Gemini, earlier this year.

In April, Google announced it had launched an experiment in the UK to test using generative AI to respond to some search queries, with the responses from Google’s chatbot showing up alongside the traditional search results and web links.

This is one of a number of AI-powered features the tech giant has been testing and could be given a wider rollout during I/O.

There have also been reports that Google could be planning to introduce a new digital assistant at the heart of its Pixel smartphones.

It has been suggested that any new assistant would have multimodal capabilities, meaning it is able to process, understand and respond to text, images and audio around one subject as they are fed to it.

Elsewhere, Google could use the event to preview its next flagship Pixel smartphone, which is due in the autumn, as well as other parts of its hardware line-up, including tablets and smart home hubs.

The announcements come as a new wave of innovation is expected around generative AI, particularly from the world’s biggest tech firms. Microsoft has its own developer conference next week and Apple’s follows in early June, with both also expected to heavily focus on their development and integration of generative AI tools.

It comes as questions and concerns remain around how to best regulate the rapidly evolving technology.

Conservative peer Lord Holmes of Richmond has tabled proposals to create a central AI regulator in the UK.

Currently, the Government has proposed that existing regulators take on the role of monitoring AI use within their own sectors rather than creating a new, central regulator dedicated to the emerging technology.

In February, it announced that more than £100 million will be spent preparing the UK to regulate AI and use the technology safely, including helping to prepare and upskill regulators across different sectors.

However, critics have warned this setup could struggle to keep up with the pace of change within the technology and leave regulatory gaps.

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