What is Google’s Terrifying Gemini AI Project Ellmann?

Google is rumored to be working on a secretive Gemini AI project codenamed Ellmann. Here's what we know and why it matters.

What's next for Google Gemini, now that the internet giant has launched its new AI model? According to the latest reports, an ultra-intelligent AI assistant being developed under the codename Project Ellmann could be on the horizon.

Project Ellmann doesn't sound so much like a ChatGPT rival as it does a potential ChatGPT killer. Rather than just answering your questions and helping you get mundane stuff done, the secretive Google initiative is being designed to capture a “birds-eye view” of your life.

The main offshoot of the undertaking would be Ellmann Chat, which Google imagines as “ChatGPT…[if] it knows everything about your life.” It's a fascinating if slightly startling prospect, given the incredible amount of data and personal information Google already knows about most internet users.

What is Google Project Ellmann?

News of Project Ellmann's existence come to us via CNBC, which claims to have seen documents related to the initiative used to present at a internal company summit. The presentation was apparently delivered by a product manager for Google Photos alongside representatives from its Gemini teams.

The AI assistant will ingest your personal photos, documents you may have stored in a Google account, and other contextual information available on the web so that it can effectively tell “your life story.” This will then be fed into a Gemini-powered chatbot, codenamed Ellmann Chat, and provide responses that are personalized to a currently unprecedented extent.

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Examples given include deducing that you like pasta from the presence of Italian food in many of your photos, which sounds a bit like Google Photos' current Memories feature doing a fireside chat with Big Brother. The end result won't be limited to just better restaurants recommendations, either, with Google's presentation claiming that Ellmann would ultimately be able to know when you were born, who your parents were, and if you have any siblings – even if it didn't directly ingest these facts.

Is Gemini x Project Ellmann a Potential ChatGPT Killer?

If these reports are accurate, the budding ChatGPT vs Gemini rivalry could be set for many more new and dramatic twists in 2024 and beyond.

Google launched its latest AI large language model (LLM) earlier in the month to much initial fanfare, followed by some controversary after it was discovered the Gemini hands-on video was staged.

The latest version of Gemini is currently being rolled out to Bard, Google's current publicly available AI chatbot, as well as being available for customers to license and develop their own applications.

Project Ellmann and Your Privacy

Of course, it will take a lot more than a backroom presentation for ChatGPT vs Bard to be decided once and for all, but news of Project Ellmann has likely raise a few eyebrows at its Microsoft-backed rival, OpenAI (which owns ChatGPT).

It's also likely to raise eyebrows amongst the general public. Google gaining new AI superpowers to learn everything there is about, well, everyone isn't likely to be a purely charitable endeavor.

As with the current stockpile of data Google holds on its users, knowing more about you ultimately serves to better inform not only what Google tells you, but what it shows you in terms of advertising and ecommerce. Project Ellmann is sure to set a few tinfoil hats on fire, given the company's far from spotless track record in matters of personal privacy and the Wild West of AI ethics at present.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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