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Ex-Reddit CEO says tech giants are shipping subpar products because they are obsessed with winning the AI race

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

Ex-Reddit CEO says tech giants are shipping subpar products because they are obsessed with winning the AI race
  • Ex-Reddit CEO Yishan Wong says tech giants are obsessed with AI but shipping bad products.
  • "The big internet giants are in a state of memetic competition over AI," Wong said.

Tech giants are letting their obsession with AI affect the quality of the products they're launching, former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong said on Wednesday.

"The big internet giants are in a state of memetic competition over AI, with Google's existential fear of OpenAI in the center ring," Wong said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"This is leading to all of them integrating LLM-powered AI into their products, but the AI sometimes gives flawed answers, which is problematic in products where the existing quality/accuracy expectation was higher," Wong continued.

Wong is no stranger to the tech world.

Before taking over the reins of Reddit in 2012, Wong spent nearly a decade in leadership and engineering roles in PayPal and Facebook, per his LinkedIn profile.

The Carnegie Mellon University graduate was Reddit's CEO for nearly two years before leaving the social network in 2014. Wong is currently the CEO of Terraformation, climate change-focused and forest restoration startup.

"What this means is that now we're getting shittier products because the tech giants are obsessed with 'competing on AI' instead of just delivering good and useful products," Wong said on Wednesday.

The fact that tech products can be rolled out and distributed quickly has made the drop in quality even more pronounced, Wong wrote.

"What makes the current situation shitty is that the giants force everyone to use the LLM-powered products because they are cloud-based," Wong said when an X user likened today's AI products to the cars that were first invented.

"With cars, people could still keep using horses. It wasn't a wholesale product changeover - people adopted as the product improved," he added.

Wong's former company Reddit does seem eager to cash in on the AI revolution. In February, the social media platform said Google was licensing its content to train their AI models. Reddit struck a similar deal with OpenAI this month as well.

Representatives for Wong didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from BI sent outside regular business hours.

Wong's comments echo that of former Google employee, Scott Jenson. On Monday, Jenson criticized his former employer's faltering attempts at winning the AI race in a LinkedIn post.

"The vision is that there will be a Tony Stark like Jarvis assistant in your phone that locks you into their ecosystem so hard that you'll never leave," Jenson wrote. "That vision is pure catnip. The fear is that they can't afford to let someone else get there first."

To be sure, established companies like Google and Meta have been scrambling to catch up with upstarts like OpenAI in the AI race.

But having deep pockets and resources hasn't really given the tech giants the leg-up they might've been hoping for.

In February, Google found itself in the hot seat after some users said that its chatbot Gemini's image-generation feature was "woke."

On social media, people were claiming that Google's AI was consistently generating images of people of color in inaccurate historical contexts.

Following the backlash, Google paused Gemini's image-generation feature on February 22. The company acknowledged Gemini's failings just a day before, when it said in a statement that the chatbot is "missing the mark."

Likewise for Meta, whose decision to roll out its AI-powered chatbot across its social media platforms drew derision from their users. Instead of a regular search bar, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram users were now stuck with a chatbot that can't be turned off.


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