Sibling rivalry. It’s a real thing, as any parent with more than one child knows, and it can either motivate a kid to work harder or alienate them. No, you haven’t accidentally opened a newsletter about parenting. Sibling rivalry turns out to be a big problem in tech. It prevented the two AI labs within Google’s parent Alphabet from working together, at least until very recently, which likely slowed Alphabet’s progress in AI. But it doesn’t have to be fatal. As we outlined today in this report, OpenAI’s ability to get its researchers and engineers working together was a major factor in its success getting an AI-powered chatbot to market before Google.
Google is trying to get its act together, we reported last week, as its two AI labs are now cooperating. Even so, this episode may be the most compelling evidence of how Google is losing its edge. When a company gets so big that its progress is stymied by infighting among different divisions, you have a problem. Outside of tech, Time Warner was renowned for an unwillingness of its different divisions to collaborate. It paid a price. What was once the premier entertainment company eventually got partly dismantled and then sold.