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Here's Google's new AI video generator and the one thing it won't do

Google's CEO is limiting what the AI video generator can do — and hopes government regulation will limit it much more.
By

Published onApril 17, 2023

TL;DR
  • On 60 Minutes, a Google AI video generator was seen for the first time.
  • The system will not generate humans, a limit placed on it by Google itself.
  • CEO Sundar Pichai is hoping governments will regulate AI even more.

Google is in a rush to catch up with rivals regarding generative AI. Chat-GPT is way ahead of the game when it comes to text-based AI generation, and Microsoft is incorporating those powers into Bing. Image generators such as Midjourney are also leading the charge. Google knows it needs to compete quickly, so it has numerous AI-based projects in the pipeline.

One of these projects is a Google AI video generator. Although this technology is similar to AI image generation, there’s no leader on the market right now. If Google can get its system out there first, it could own that sector. In a recent “Overtime” segment of 60 Minutes, Google showed off a sneak peek at this new product.

Google AI video generator ‘Phenaki’

This Google AI video generator is known as “Phenaki” for now. This codename is likely a reference to the phenakistiscope, the first widespread device to create a fluid illusion of motion. According to the 60 Minutes segment, Phenaki works much the same as current image generation systems. You put in a text prompt, and the AI creates a short video clip (kind of like a GIF) that represents the prompt.

In the example we’ve seen, Phenaki created a golden retriever with angel wings frolicking in a field. Although the images had movement, they looked quite crude. You could immediately tell the clips were not real and looked more like hand-drawn animation rather than something someone shot with a camera.

Interestingly, Google has put artificial guardrails on Phenaki. The company confirmed to 60 Minutes that Phenaki would not generate humans. This safety precaution prevents the Google AI video generator from creating deep fakes.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was also interviewed for this video. He states — much to the surprise of the 60 Minutes interviewer — that he is hoping for government regulation of Phenaki and other AI-based technologies. “There have to be consequences for creating deep fake videos which cause harm to society,” Pichai says. Scott Pelley, the 60 Minutes anchor, responds by saying, “I don’t usually hear CEOs of major corporations ask for government regulation.” Pichai responds, “Anybody who has worked with AI for a while realizes that this is something so different and so deep that we would need societal regulations to think about how to adapt.”

Unfortunately, the segment doesn’t mention if or when we would see Phenaki roll out to the general public.