By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Google on Monday announced a new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot called “Bard” that will rival the currently popular ChatGPT.
“Two years ago we unveiled next-generation language and conversation capabilities powered by our Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA for short),” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.
“We’ve been working on an experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA, that we’re calling Bard.”
Google is opening up the technology to “trusted testers” before making it more widely available to the public, he said.
Google plans to let individual developers, creators, and enterprises try its conversational services, “initially powered by LaMDA with a range of models to follow,” starting next month, he added.
Pichai also said Google plans to integrate AI features such as LaMDA into its dominant search engine to help generate responses for more complex queries—”questions where there’s no one right answer.”
Currently, Google works by indexing content from the billions of webpages that it crawls, and then ranking it by order of relevance to users’ queries.
“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner,” he said, although he didn’t provide a specific timeline for the rollout.
Minutes after Google unveiled Bard on Monday, Microsoft announced it is holding a press event on Tuesday at its Redmond headquarters. Reports speculate the company is expected to announce an AI integration into its search engine Bing.
Rival to Microsoft-Backed ChatGPT
Google’s announcement of Bard comes just two weeks after Microsoft announced a new multibillion-dollar investment into OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools. Microsoft has been a multibillion-dollar investor in OpenAI since 2019.
ChatGPT has reached tens of millions of users since its release as a free prototype to the public on Nov. 30, 2022. At times, the AI service turned away users because of explosive growth.
It’s yet unclear how Bard is different from ChatGPT. Pichai said the new service draws on information from the internet, while ChatGPT’s knowledge is up to date as of 2021.
According to a demo of Bard, the service, just like ChatGPT, tells users to provide it with a prompt. Users are told they can use Bard to “Plan a friend’s baby shower,” “Compare two Oscar nominated movies,” and “Get lunch ideas based on what’s in your fridge.”
The demo also shows Bard generating three bulleted answers to a query asking about new discoveries by a space telescope.
“Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity,” Pichai wrote. He didn’t say whether Bard could write prose like William Shakespeare, who may have inspired the service’s name.
Pichai said that Google is relying on a “lightweight” model version LaMDA that “requires significantly less computing power” so that it can service more users, thereby allowing for more user feedback.
“We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information,” wrote Pichai.
LaMDA had previously generated text in such a manner that one of Google’s engineers warned that it could be sentient.