Did you know it too, it was only a matter of time: automakers from all over the world had already set their sights on Chat GPT, the advanced AI language model, to revolutionize their voice assistants. That moment is (already) activated: Mercedes-Benz will be the first to cross the finish line.
The announcement has arrived: the Stuttgart company has started beta tests of its MBUX infotainment system, with integrated ChatGPT. General Motors was eating the dust, although it had immediately seized the opportunity (in March) but was evidently not equipped to leave one-on-one, which Mercedes did instead.
And so from June 16, 2023 the beta system has been distributed to US customers who have joined the test program. Not a few: more than 900.000 Mercedes cars are equipped with the MBUX system. For those with a compatible car, participating in the program was very simple: for owners, it was enough to say "Hey Mercedes, I want to enter the beta program". After joining, the car receives a software update with the version of the "enhanced" assistant with ChatGPT.
What can the new Mercedes assistant do?
With this new upgrade, the 'Hey Mercedes' system will be able to do more than just respond to pre-set commands like 'Turn on the air conditioning' or 'Search for a radio station'.
MBUX will be able to understand commands that it simply would not have understood before. It will be possible to "converse" with the assistant in a more natural way, without worrying about spelling words correctly: the system will understand requests and commands by interpreting the context, in a way closer to that of a human being.
Two inevitable reflections
First and foremost: how will user privacy be managed? Mercedes ensures full control. The data collected, they say in Germany, will not end up in the hands of Microsoft: it will be sent to a proprietary Cloud, where it will be anonymised, analyzed and archived.
"Our goal is to make our cars the center of our customers' digital lives while offering the best possible protection of their privacy," said the Chief Technology Officer of Mercedes-Benz, Markus Schaefer.
What prevents Mercedes, once these data have been "anonymised, analyzed and archived", from making them available to Microsoft and OpenAI to perfect the system (and ChatGPT)?
This brings us to the second reflection: this is not just a test bed for Mercedes. From the tens of millions of vocal interactions of the car occupants (also cross-referenced with data on the use of the tools), Microsoft will probably obtain the "core" of the ChatGPT which will integrate the multimedia help systems, the PCs and (perhaps) a Alexa' branded Windows and luckier than the Amazon one.
The tests will last about three months, which will be followed (hopefully) by the integration of ChatGPT on a large scale. What do you think? KITT from "Supercar" or HAL9000 from "A Space Odyssey"?