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Google’s Upcoming AI Update Can Read Private Messages

Google’s Upcoming AI Update Can Read Private Messages

Ivana Shteriova February 12, 2024
February 12, 2024
Google is likely bringing Bard, its ChatGPT-like chatbot, to Messages on Android. On his X account, tipster Assembler Debug posted leaked images of the feature in beta code.

Bard might get integrated into Google Messages to help users write text messages for various use cases, from asking someone on a date to crafting the perfect sick day message for work. According to website 9to5Google, who decompiled code in the latest Google Messages update,

Bard in Messages will be able to analyze the private content of users’ messages “to understand the context.”

Examination of the leaked code also suggests that Bard can access location data and go through chat histories “to tailor its responses,” picking up on things like tone, vibe, mood, interests, and relationship dynamics among participants. This data will enable the chatbot to craft personalized responses to different participants.

Codenamed “penpal,” the new feature might also be able to translate conversations, identify images, and provide recipe ideas and book recommendations.

While chats within Google Messages are end-to-end encrypted, that won’t be the case with Bard chats within the Messages app. Bard will send the AI responses to the cloud for processing and training the AI. Google employees might also review these messages. For these reasons, Google warns that users should avoid sharing sensitive information with Bard and “don’t enter anything you wouldn’t want a reviewer to see or Google to use.”

Cybersecurity experts, including Forbes contributor Zak Doffman, believe it would be ideal if Bard processed data on-device instead of sending it to the cloud. “Google’s challenge will be convincing users that this doesn’t open the door to the same kind of privacy nightmares we’ve seen before, where user content and AI platforms meet.”

Privacy incidents aren’t uncommon among AI technologies. For example, Bard’s rival ChatGPT suffered a glitch that exposed AI chat histories to other users. This feature also raises ethical concerns. Critics argue that it will leave users wondering whether a thoughtful response came from a human or their AI assistant.

Bard in Google Messages isn’t available yet nor confirmed by Google. But when asked about the feature, Bard replied that “there are strong indications” that it might become available within Google RCS messages in the future, adding that integration testing occurred in March 2023.

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