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AI chips in Chromebooks could improve some ChromeOS features.

AI chips in Chromebooks are a solution to… what?

The newly announced Intel Core Ultra chips usher in “the Age of the AI PC.” At least that’s what Intel claims. And we’ll see this silicon in Chromebooks, with the Asus ExpertBook CX54 Chromebook already announced. These AI chips in Chromebooks solve today’s problem of… exactly what?

AI chips in Chromebooks are a solution in search of a problem

You don’t need this special silicon to do many “AI things” right now. None of the Chromebook Plus models have AI-specific hardware inside, for example. Yet Google says that Chromebook Plus laptops have, or will have AI features.

These include “Magic Eraser’s AI-powered editing in the built-in Google Photos app”, “on-device AI”, and “Duet AI in Workspace. The latter is used to query your laptop to summarize data from multiple local documents.

Handy, yes. But it doesn’t require AI chips in Chromebooks.

AI chips in Chromebooks aren't needed for current features.

There’s also the still unreleased AI image generation for video call backgrounds on Chromebook Plus laptops.

When I saw a demonstration of this, I thought it was neat. Not particularly groundbreaking in terms of productivity though. Changing my background to an office on Mars might be fun, at least for a little while.

It doesn’t boost my productivity or add that much value, however.

AI chips in Chromebooks might make some generative experiences faster but are they needed?

I completely understand that when you have chips dedicated to a single purpose, they can boost the performance of that purpose. But you still need a purpose. And right now I just don’t see one.

Hype and experimentation?

It feels like this whole AI push, both by Google on Chromebooks and Intel in its chips, is a “let’s throw it against the wall and see what sticks” situation.

I have yet to see anything that sticks, save for the Magic Eraser photo editing.

It started life on the Pixel phones I do appreciate that it filtered down to my Chromebook. I think I’ve used it one time on my laptop though and that was simply for a blog post example. Again, no special AI chips were needed.

Magic Eraser doesn't require AI chips on Chromebooks
I used Magic Eraser to remove a small flower bud from the bottom of this photo

Maybe my issue is that there’s so much hype around AI. And that’s breeding hype for AI chips in Chromebooks, as well as other computers.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that AI will transform computing, as well as other industries. We have years before that happens.

I also lean on OpenAI when I can’t solve a coding problem. And I do benefit from that. But at the moment, what the industry calls AI is currently a generative, language-modeled system. It’s not intelligence that can span a very broad set of tasks. Chromebooks don’t stand to benefit much from AI chips, outside of local processing over cloud computations.

What value can AI chips in Chromebooks add?

Think about what AI could bring to Chromebooks, based on typical usage activity, to better understand.

System-level AI might surface apps or browser tabs at certain times of the day based on context. Google Docs could be ready to go at the beginning of a workday in this case. A nudge or automatic opening of Netflix might happen at night on a Chromebook.

OK, so the AI saved me a click. Does that justify AI chips in Chromebooks?

I don’t think so. And I also struggle to find any Chromebook activities that would benefit from AI chips. Of course, as I’m sure someone will point out, I’m only considering current use cases. It’s possible, even likely, that future Chromebook activities would surely be better with AI power. I don’t know what those are and I’m drawing a blank when I think about what they might be.

Is it just me? Am I overlooking the value of AI chips in Chromebooks? Some of you have probably thought about the intersection of AI and ChromeOS, so share your thoughts.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

6 thoughts on “AI chips in Chromebooks are a solution to… what?

  1. “It feels like this whole AI push, both by Google on Chromebooks and Intel in its chips, is a “let’s throw it against the wall and see what sticks” situation.”

  2. AI on Chromebooks is probably not so much about taking the lead as it is about not getting left behind. When the iPhone was introduced in June 2007, Steve Ballmer just laughed at Apple. Fortunately for Google, the first Android SmartPhone was introduced in September 2008. The Windows Phone was finally introduced in October 2010 and wasn’t that bad of a product, but the train had already left the station.

    1. In terms of marketing not having something “AI” on your product is now equivalent of selling a car with 3 wheels or admitting your product causes cancer.

      It’s just buzz mostly and will change a lot less than the hype.

      Given robot slaves most people will just watch more Netflix, little changes anything anymore…

  3. I doubt AI will change anything in the same way technology hasn’t changed much… Where’s my space car and 100% leisure time that tech promised?

    Bring on the robot slaves, great now we can watch those million netflix shows, ohh can’t wait.

    Tech ability to change things for the better is way overrated. I see on Star Trek they still have as much war as ever… as much anxiety in life.

    From a tech point of view we can now emulate on OS with very little CPU power. I can emulate those old games consoles without making my pc even get hot.

    Without new OS developments then all these new CPU are way overpowered and overpriced. Without change you’ll soon be able to emulate Windows on a toaster chip. Without Ads the web would be so very fast because little real web stuff has changed for a long time now. Hardware is just outpacing software development and a good thing for consumers that is.

    Hardware makers need new tech in the OS otherwise they are doomed and their product has little overall more value than toilet roll in the scheme of things.

  4. There are plans for three versions of Gemini one of which could run as assistant on a Chromebook

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