The head of Google’s DeepMind Technologies said recent high-profile problems with pictures generated by the search giant’s Gemini AI would be resolved in a matter of weeks, as he conceded there are several pitfalls to be negotiated before the true potential of generative AI (genAI) can be unlocked. 

In a timely MWC keynote, DeepMind co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis (pictured) explained some elements of an image-generating feature in Gemini had provided unintended results, particularly for queries involving historical figures. 

Plenty of news sites have reported how Gemini had produced culturally inappropriate images. 

Hassabis said the feature was “well-intended”, designed to reflect the broad user base of Google by delivering results with a degree of universality. 

In the case of historical figures, though, he conceded the feature was applied “too bluntly”, in turn highlighting one of the “nuances that comes with advanced AI” in terms of unexpected outcomes. 

He said the feature has been taken offline, with the aim of ironing out the quirks and bringing the service “back online in short order”. 

Hassabis also addressed the potential for “bad actors” to use genAI for nefarious purposes, explaining all players in the sector must discuss how to deliver the benefits of the technology without possible “harmful ends”. 

Positive impact 
The AI pioneer had plenty of examples of the good AI has already done, particularly in the field of medical research. 

He pointed to advances in protein research which could ultimately contribute to a reduction in the time taken to develop life-saving pharmaceuticals “from an average of ten years to discover one drug, down to maybe a matter of months”. 

The pace of development in genAI itself took an unexpected step when OpenAI released its ChatGPT product.  

Hassabis admitted he was surprised at the public enthusiasm for using a product which still had flaws, but equally took heart that “millions found value” even at such a nascent stage in the development of genAI. 

He believes the technology could also spur a fresh round of innovation in the device sector, opening the door for different form-factors and becoming a more useful element in peoples’ lives through an evolution of current versions of digital assistants.