On February 6 Google launched an experimental conversation AI service named Bard, as it gears up to catch with the widely known chatbot ChatGPT from the Microsoft-backed firm OpenAI. In a blogpost, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said that the service will be first accessible to “trusted testers” before it is made available to the public in the weeks to follow.
The CEO had earlier hinted the launch of this service during the company’s earnings conference call last week, saying that consumers will be able to use its language models “as a companion to search”.
The unveiling of Bard comes at a time when Google’s flagship search business faces stiff competition from its Big Tech rival Microsoft which reportedly invested $10 billion in the upstart artificial intelligence (AI) research lab OpenAI and plans to access artificial intelligence capabilities through its range of software products including Google rival Bing.
Just like ChatGPT, Bard will give detailed answers to user prompts such as “plan a friend’s baby shower”, “compare two Oscar-nominated movies,” or “get lunch ideas based on what’s in your fridge”.
Where the service could take a lead is answering questions about current events, since ChatGPT’s knowledge is currently restricted to internet data until 2021. In the blogpost, Pichai mentioned that Bard “draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses”.
“Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now” he further added.
Powered by LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), Bard provides a large language model that was developed and released by Google in 2021. Pichai said, initially, they will be releasing Bard on a “lightweight” version of LaMDA that willneed significantly less computing power, allowing them to scale to more users and get more feedback.
Pichai said, “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.”
Other than the launch of Bard, the search engine behemoth will also enable developers to build on top of their existing AI models. Next month onwards, individual developers, creators and enterprises can try their Generative Language API that will first be powered by LaMDA and then with other language models to follow.
With time, Pichai said they look forward to create a suite of tools and APIs that will make it easy for others to build more “innovative” applications with AI.
Google Cloud signed a partnership with Anthropic last week. Anthropic is an AI startup founded by former OpenAI researchers that is currently working on an AI chatbot called Claude. According to Financial Times, an investment of $300 million was made by Google into the startup in late 2022.
AI-powered features in Search
CEO Pichai also emphasised on how they re-modelled the company around AI six years ago and have been using AI to enhance their search engine for several years.
Since people are increasingly searching for deeper insights and understanding complex topics on Google, which without AI would have taken a huge effort to figure out everything they need to know.
“People often want to explore a diverse range of opinions or perspectives. AI can be helpful in these moments, synthesizing insights for questions where there’s no one right answer” Pichai said.
He added that people will shortly see AI-powered features in Google Search that filter out complex information and several perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so that they quickly understand the big picture and are able to learn more from the web.
“Whether it’s applying AI to radically transform our own products or making these powerful tools available to others, we’ll continue to be bold with innovation and responsible in our approach” Pichai concluded.