Google’s AI Supremacy: A Losing Battle Against the Open Source Juggernaut

Yoav Tchelet
2 min readMay 6, 2023
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

In a moment of striking honesty, a leaked Google memo has shed light on the company’s internal struggle to maintain its grip on AI. The memo divulges that the true contender for AI supremacy has never been OpenAI but rather the ever-growing behemoth known as open source.
Acknowledging their inability to compete with open-source technology, the memo is a humbling admission of Google’s defeat in the battle for AI dominance.

It reads:
“While we’ve been busy glancing nervously at OpenAI, wondering who will make the next big breakthrough, we’ve failed to notice the silent force consuming our market share: open source. We simply can’t compete. The solutions they’ve developed are faster, more customizable, more private, and all-around more capable than ours. And they’re doing it all at a fraction of the cost.”

Despite Google’s slight advantage over open source, the memo’s author recognises that their lead is slipping away and is unlikely to ever return.
The document goes on to lament Google’s previous assumption that the colossal size of their models would give them an insurmountable edge. Now, they’re beginning to see that their gargantuan models are their Achilles’ heel.

The creation of the open-source ChatGPT clone, Dolly 2.0, was made possible by the efforts of thousands of employee volunteers. The open-source community’s ability to scale their projects in ways that closed-source systems can’t is a cause for concern within Google. In contrast, Google and OpenAI relied partially on scraped Q&A datasets.
The memo also highlights the rapid development of open-source AI technologies, such as the open-source Stable Diffusion model, which overtook the popularity of OpenAI’s DALL-E in weeks. This unnerving speed has left Google shaking in its proverbial boots.

Furthermore, the memo’s author points out the open source community’s superior creation process, which is faster, cheaper, and more collaborative than the traditional approach employed by Google and OpenAI. With the capacity for rapid iteration and improvements, open-source AI models can potentially render Google’s offerings obsolete.

As the memo concludes, it seems that Google has realised the futility of competing with open source. Instead, they’re considering joining and dominating the movement, much like they have with Chrome and Android. After all, if you can’t beat ’em, why not co-opt ‘em?

In a strikingly apt analogy, the memo likens the open-source community to Prometheus, the Greek hero who stole fire from the gods. While Google and OpenAI were busy squabbling, the open-source community snatched the divine flame and ran with it. And now, Google is left to wonder if they can ever hope to regain control or if they must simply accept their fate and join the masses.

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Yoav Tchelet

Yoav Tchelet has over 25 years experience working with some of the world's largest brands, helping them scale and grow their businesses.