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Sam Altman throws shade at Google's 'aesthetic'

Ana Altchek   

Sam Altman throws shade at Google's 'aesthetic'
  • OpenAI and Google each held major events this week announcing AI updates, one day apart.
  • Sam Altman said he "cannot stop thinking" about the aesthetic difference between Google and OpenAI.

Sam Altman isn't afraid to stir the pot a bit in the artificial-intelligence race, and his latest post took aim at Google.

OpenAI and Google held their biggest events of the year so far, a day apart from each other — and AI was the theme of both.

OpenAI announced its new flagship model, GPT-4o, which it said could "reason across audio, vision, and text in real time." A day later, Google announced various updates to its AI models — including a new AI agent named "Project Astra" — and gave a look into the future of Google Search.

But instead of coming after Google's AI offerings, Altman threw some shade at Google's aesthetic. The CEO posted side-by-side images on X, formerly Twitter, of OpenAI's event and Google I/O.

"I try not to think about competitors too much, but I cannot stop thinking about the aesthetic difference between openai and google," he wrote.

On the left, OpenAI researchers are pictured sitting on a couch in dim lighting, trying out the new GPT-4o in a vaguely midcentury-modern office space. On the right, Google's vast outdoor stage almost resembles a movie set. The image shows a small crowd in front of a brightly lit stage with fake windows and clouds and Google's famous rainbow colors on the wall behind it.

Altman's point is clear: OpenAI's event looks sleeker and more intimate, while Google looks like a large-scale production.

The general structure and style of both events also differed. Google's event was nearly two hours long and featured the electronic musician Marc Rebillet of TikTok and YouTube fame warming up the crowd with the help of AI. OpenAI's was under 30 minutes and held in its offices.

Google I/O featured more than half a dozen speakers, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who opened the event and spoke again at its closing. OpenAI had only a few speakers and Sam Altman never made an appearance in the livestream.

At least one Google employee was quick to clap back at the OpenAI CEO.

Less than two hours after Altman's post on X, Zachary Nado, whose profile lists him as a research engineer at Google Brain, posted a response. The Googler reacted to Altman saying he didn't think about competitors much by saying it was "interesting how all your launches are timed with ours then."


Of course, it's also worth noting that Google tried to have the last laugh 30 minutes before OpenAI kicked off its event, posting a demo video of Google's own AI agent and its impressive image recognition.

While the Google engineer said he was just "bantering" and had a lot of respect for OpenAI researchers, the back-and-forth highlights the rivalry between the two companies as they race to create the top AI products.

OpenAI may not have announced a search engine at its event on Monday, but The Information reported that the ChatGPT maker was creating its own web search product. Google is meanwhile improving its Gemini AI suite, which has trailed behind OpenAI's ChatGPT — but has quickly gained market share.

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