Ever since the conversational artificial intelligence (AI) ChatGPT took the world by storm with its impressive capabilities, all eyes have been on Google to see how the tech giant would respond to this apparent competitor to its dominance over search.
Enter Bard, Google’s own chatbot which Sundar Pichai, the company’s CEO, says “seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models”.
In a blog post announcement, Pichai started by talking up Google’s work on AI with its 2017 “field-defining paper” on Transformer technology, and its progress with diffusion models which he said are “the basis of many of the generative AI applications you’re starting to see today”.
Those generative applications have been front and centre of the AI space for months, as text-to-image, text-to-video, and even text-to-music platforms have proliferated.
Tech watchers have, however, been waiting for the announcement of Google’s answer to ChatGPT since OpenAI’s product was released for public testing in November last year.
ChatGPT uses OpenAI’s machine-learning natural language processor GPT3 to allow users to enter prompts and get human-like written responses.
These have been used to write essays, articles, take exams, translate text and even to write computer code.
How does Bard compare?
We’ll have to wait to find out, as the tech giant is only releasing it for testing to a select group of outside testers.
However, according to Pichai’s blog, Bard will use information taken from the internet “to provide fresh, high-quality responses”.
That sets it apart from ChatGPT, which is trained on a huge data set which currently cuts off at the end of 2021.
Like ChatGPT, Bard is supposed to be able to explain complex subjects, such as outer space discoveries, in terms simple enough for a child to understand.
Google also says the service will perform other more mundane tasks, such as providing tips for planning a party, or lunch ideas based on what food is left in a refrigerator.
Pichai didn't say whether Bard will be able to write longer prose like ChatGPT can.
“Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity," he wrote.
He added that Bard would be made widely available later this year after a period of testing.
Bard's existence was announced less than two weeks after Microsoft disclosed it was pouring billions of dollars into OpenAI, a company it already had a $1 billion (€0.93 billion) stake in.
Many analysts believe AI technology will be as transformational as personal computers, the Internet and smartphones have been in various stages over the past 40 years.
Pichai has been emphasising the importance of AI for the past six years, with one of the most visible byproducts materialising in 2021 as part of a system called “Language Model for Dialogue Applications," or LaMDA, which will be used to power Bard.
Google also plans to begin incorporating LaMDA and other AI advancements into its dominant search engine to provide more helpful answers to the increasingly complicated questions being posed by its billions of users.
Without providing a specific timeline, Pichai indicated these tools will be deployed in Google's search in the near future.
In another sign of Google's deepening commitment to the field, Google announced last week that it is investing in and partnering with Anthropic, an AI start-up led by some former leaders at OpenAI.