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Google's next chatbot may use your photos to answer questions about your life

Project Ellmann is meant to take a "Bird's-eye" view of your life.

Published onDecember 11, 2023

Google Logo as seen at Google Store Mountain View
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
  • Google may be working on a new AI project called “Project Ellmann.”
  • Project Ellmann would use a person’s phone data to provide a “bird’s-eye view” of that person’s life.
  • Project Ellmann would reportedly be able to describe a user’s photos more deeply by using biographies, previous moments, and subsequent photos as context.

Last week, Google launched its next-gen large language model (LLM) known as Gemini. A new report claims that one of the ways Google may use Gemini is to power a new AI feature that can “answer previously impossible questions” about your life by using phone data like photos and searches.

According to a report from CNBC, Google is working on an AI experience called “Project Ellmann.” Named after biographer Richard David Ellmann, Project Ellmann would use LLMs to gain awareness of what’s going on in a photo. Google reportedly wants Project Ellmann to become “Your Life Story Teller.”

It’s unclear if the tech giant would build the chatbot into Google Photos or any of its other products. However, a spokesperson told the outlet:

Google Photos has always used AI to help people search their photos and videos, and we’re excited about the potential of LLMs to unlock even more helpful experiences. This was an early internal exploration and, as always, should we decide to roll out new features, we would take the time needed to ensure they were helpful to people, and designed to protect users’ privacy and safety as our top priority

It appears the feature would work by collecting search result data and finding patterns in your photos. Project Ellmann would then be able to describe a user’s photos more deeply by using biographies, previous moments, and subsequent photos rather than using “just pixels with labels and metadata,” according to the outlet.

The presentation in question also appears to provide a few examples, such as someone recently attending a school reunion. It’s said Project Ellmann would be able to infer that it has been 10 years since the user graduated and that the picture includes faces they haven’t seen in a decade, likely making the photo a reunion photo.

Additionally, Google also reportedly showed off “Ellmann Chat,” with the description, “Imagine opening ChatGPT but it already knows everything about your life. What would you ask it?” In response to the question “Do I have a pet?” the chatbot was able to answer yes as well as provide additional details about what the dog was wearing, the dog’s name, and the family members it tends to be around the most.

It’s currently unknown when or if Google plans to launch the feature.

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