What is Gemini? Google adds controversial AI to messaging

Google Gemini large language model Logo on a screen
Google will soon allow users of Android smartphones to chat with its Gemini AI system. (Alamy) (dennizn)

Google will soon allow users of Android smartphones to chat with its Gemini artificial intelligence (AI) system – the tech giant's controversial rival to ChatGPT.

Google’s chatbot (formerly known as Bard) will be added to certain Android models in the Google Messages app as part of a broader push to integrate the Gemini AI into the company's products. The new feature is currently available to beta testers over 18, and is available in English.

Google’s AI faced controversy in recent days due to an influx of historically inaccurate ‘diverse’ images.

The tech giant says that Gemini can be used to write message drafts, converse about different subjects or plan events. It works on up-to-date Android handsets including Pixel handsets, Samsung Galaxy S22 handsets and Samsung’s folding Z Flip and Z Fold handsets.

The images Google Gemini produced when asked to show pictures of Vikings. (Google Gemini)
The images Google Gemini produced when asked to show pictures of Vikings. (Google Gemini)

Why is Gemini controversial?

Google recently ‘paused’ Gemini’s ability to create images, after the model generated historically inaccurate images including of black Nazi soldiers. Other images included a female pope and black Vikings.

Elon Musk described the images as examples of Google’s "insane racist, anti-civilizational programming".

Google said the problem arose due to the model being too cautious, saying that “if you ask for a picture of football players, or someone walking a dog, you may want to receive a range of people. You probably don’t just want to only receive images of people of just one type of ethnicity (or any other characteristic).”

Since the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT in November 2022, Google has been racing to produce AI software rivalling what the Microsoft-backed company had introduced.

When Google released its generative AI chatbot Bard a year ago, the company shared inaccurate information about pictures of a planet outside the Earth's solar system in a promotional video, causing shares to slide as much as 9%.

What else can Gemini do?

Google Bard was renamed Gemini worldwide earlier this month, reflecting the underlying software which powers it.

Google said: "We’re committed to giving everyone direct access to Google AI and, as of this week, every Gemini user across our supported countries and languages has access to Google’s best family of AI models. To better reflect this commitment, we’ve renamed Bard to Gemini."

The Google Gemini AI interface is seen on an iPhone browser in this photo illustration on 13 March, 2023 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Google's Gemini will now be available directly in Android messages. (NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Gemini AI will also be built into other Google apps as a ‘helper’.

"Gemini is integrated with Google apps like Gmail, Maps, and YouTube, making it easy to get things done on your phone. You can interact with it through text, voice or images," Google said.

A specialised Gemini app will also offer access to the chatbot, although this is not available in the UK and is currently US-only.

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