1. Home
  2. tech
  3. news
  4. Former Google employee says company's AI work is driven by 'a stone cold panic that they are getting left behind'

Former Google employee says company's AI work is driven by 'a stone cold panic that they are getting left behind'

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

Former Google employee says company's AI work is driven by 'a stone cold panic that they are getting left behind'
  • Google's AI plans are "poorly motivated," says a former employee.
  • "This myopia is NOT something driven by a user need," said Scott Jenson, who left Google in March.

Google might be one of the biggest players in the AI space, but an employee says the tech giant's work in the field has been motivated by "stone cold panic."

"The 'AI Projects' I was working on were poorly motivated and driven by this panic that as long as it had 'AI' in it, it would be great," Scott Jenson, a senior UX designer who left Google in March, wrote in a LinkedIn post on Monday.

"This myopia is NOT something driven by a user need," he continued. "It is a stone cold panic that they are getting left behind."

Jenson later clarified, via an update to his post, that he wasn't a senior leader at Google and that the projects he worked on "were fairly limited."

"My comment comes more from a general frustration of the entire industry and it's approach to AI," he wrote.

According to Jenson's LinkedIn profile, the Stanford graduate worked at Google for around 16 years, across three separate stints.

In his first stint, which ran from 2005 to 2011, Jenson managed Google's mobile UX. He later rejoined Google in 2013, where he spent over 8 years focusing on product strategy. Jenson's final and shortest stint at Google ran from April 2022 to March 2024, where he researched on new uses of haptic technology for Android.

"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, referencing the Marvel hero, Iron Man.

"That vision is pure catnip. The fear is that they can't afford to let someone else get there first," he added.

And according to Jenson, this isn't the first time the search giant has given into fear and anxiety when it notices a new rival.

"This exact thing happened 13 years ago with Google+ (I was there for that fiasco as well). That was a similar reaction but to Facebook," Jenson wrote.

Google+ was a social network that the company launched in June 2011. The company's attempt at a Facebook rival floundered, as it struggled with "low usage and engagement."

The service was finally shuttered in April 2019.

But Google, Jenson said, wasn't the only tech giant guilty of making this mistake.

"BTW, Apple is no different. They too are trying to create this AI lock-in with Siri. When the emperor, eventually, has no clothes, they'll be lapped by someone thinking bigger," said Jenson, who'd also worked as a user interface designer at Apple for eight years.

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

Jenson's scathing assessment comes as tech giants like Google and Apple have been struggling to play catch-up with AI upstarts like OpenAI. And Google and Apple's deep pockets and earlier investments in AI haven't exactly given either of them a meaningful lead in the AI race.

In fact, Apple's software chiefs spent weeks testing out ChatGPT themselves before realizing that they needed to upgrade their digital assistant Siri, per The New York Times.

The Cupertino-based company is also nearing a deal with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT into the next version of iOS, per Bloomberg.

Likewise for Google, who has been repeatedly upstaged by OpenAI with its product announcements.

When Google unveiled its new AI model Gemini 1.5 on February 15, OpenAI dropped its text-to-video model Sora just a few hours later.

Last week, OpenAI debuted its new flagship AI model, GPT-4o, a day before Google announced various updates for their models.

"I try not to think about competitors too much, but I cannot stop thinking about the aesthetic difference between openai and google," OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman said in an X post on May 16.

Popular Right Now