More Profound than Fire or Electricity: Google CEO Sundar Pichai on AI Developments

Yana Khare 20 Apr, 2023 • 5 min read

The invention of fire has been one of the most revolutionary developments for humankind. Similarly, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai believes that artificial intelligence (AI) and its development will be just as significant to human history.

Alphabet & Google CEO Sundar Pichai compares the development of AI to fire and electricity

Sundar Pichai has long regarded AI as the most profound technology humanity is developing. “I’ve always thought of AI as the most profound technology humanity is working on—more profound than fire or electricity or anything that we’ve done in the past,” he said.

Repeated Comparisons Show Pichai’s Commitment to AI’s Potential

This is not the first time Google CEO Sundar Pichai has likened AI to fire and electricity. He has expressed this sentiment for half a decade. During a Google town hall in 2018, he described AI as “one of the most important things to humanity.” In addition to that, he said that it was “more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire.”

AI Chatbots and The Race for AI Domination

Ethical considerations which need to be kept in mind for AI development says Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai

As part of an experimental trial, Google’s recent release of its AI chatbot, Bard, showcases the company’s growing investment in AI. Additionally, Alphabet plans to integrate AI technology into Google Search, offering users answers to their queries alongside relevant links.

This announcement follows the successful launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. ChatGPT has garnered immense popularity and sparked a race between tech companies to develop AI products. Google’s internal “code red” reportedly ensued, signaling the company’s determination to compete in the AI market.

Microsoft, a long-time rival of Google and a significant investor in OpenAI, has already unveiled its Google Search competitor’s AI-powered version of Bing.

Also Read: Google VS Microsoft: The Battle of AI Innovation

Balancing Speed and Responsibility in AI Development


While keen to emphasize the company’s responsible approach to AI development, senior Google executives have faced frustrations from some employees regarding the slower pace. In response, there have been reports of Google employees raising concerns about AI products being launched too hastily.

Sundar Pichai has also expressed his concerns about the rapid development of AI and the potential dangers of deploying it irresponsibly. In a conversation with CBS’s Scott Pelley, he admitted that the pace of AI development keeps him up at night. “We don’t have all the answers there yet, and the technology is moving fast,” Sundar Pichai said. “So, does that keep me up at night? Absolutely.”

Harnessing AI for Humanity and Overcoming its Perils

Sundar Pichai has previously drawn parallels between the benefits and drawbacks of AI and the ancient discovery of fire. In 2018, he pointed out that fire could be lethal, but humanity had learned to harness it for the greater good. “We have learned to harness fire for the benefit of humanity, but we had to overcome its downsides, too. So my point is, AI is essential, but we have to be concerned about it.”

To ensure the responsible development of AI, Google and Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai emphasizes that the responsibility should not fall solely on engineers. Instead, the effort should include social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, and other experts. All those who can contribute to understanding the technology’s impact on society.

With Alphabet’s commitment to AI development and Sundar Pichai’s repeated comparisons to groundbreaking discoveries like fire and electricity, it is clear that AI has the potential to revolutionize the world. The challenge now lies in harnessing this technology responsibly to ensure it benefits humanity while mitigating its potential downsides.

As AI technology advances rapidly, it brings forth numerous ethical challenges that need to be addressed. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has expressed the importance of including social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, and other experts in the development process to ensure responsible AI deployment. Including these experts can help navigate AI’s ethical challenges, such as potential biases, privacy concerns, and job displacement.

Addressing AI Bias and Privacy Concerns

AI’s significant challenge is the possibility of incorporating biases in training data. This can lead to unfair outcomes and exacerbate existing inequalities. By involving social scientists and ethicists in AI development, companies like Google can create systems designed to recognize and mitigate these biases, ensuring fair and equitable outcomes for all users.

Privacy concerns are also rising as AI becomes more integrated into everyday life. Experts in data privacy and ethics can provide valuable insights into striking a balance between leveraging AI’s capabilities and protecting user privacy. Addressing privacy concerns will become increasingly crucial for maintaining public trust as AI systems become more adept at predicting and analyzing human behavior.

AI and the Future of Work

AI and the Future of Work | Google CEO | Sundar Pichai

The rise of AI has also led to concerns about job displacement and the future of work. As AI systems become more capable of automating tasks, some jobs may become obsolete, affecting millions of workers worldwide. Involving labor economics, education, and workforce development experts in AI-related discussions can help create strategies to support displaced workers and prepare them for new opportunities.

Investing in retraining and reskilling programs are essential to help workers adapt to the changing job market. This can involve creating partnerships between AI developers, governments, and educational institutions. This would ensure that workers have access to the necessary resources and training to succeed in an AI-driven world.

Our Say

AI can potentially revolutionize the world like fire and electricity have transformed human history. However, realizing its full potential while mitigating its risks requires a concerted effort from stakeholders in various disciplines.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s insistence on a responsible approach to AI development. This highlights the need for a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to innovation. By involving experts from various fields, tech companies can work towards developing AI systems. This will revolutionize industries and respect ethical boundaries, protect privacy, and support affected workers.

As AI grows in influence and capabilities, it is critical to remember the lessons learned from past technological breakthroughs. Just as humanity has harnessed the power of fire and electricity for the greater good, we must also rise to the challenge of responsibly developing and deploying AI for the benefit of all.

Learn More: Learning the Basics of Deep Learning, ChatGPT, and Bard AI

Yana Khare 20 Apr 2023

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