Move over ChatGPT – “Bard” is entering the chat.
Google announced this week it was launching Bard, its own generative AI chatbot that would rival Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s extremely popular service.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, said in a Feb. 6 blog post that Bard would be available to the general public in the “coming weeks.”
Google is joining other tech companies entering the generative AI realm given the rapid popularity of ChatGPT, which shows we’re entering a new era of technological development, said Mark Daley, chief digital information officer at Western University.
“We’re entering a phase where there’s enormous competition between young startups like Open AI and giants like Google,” he told Global News.
“I’m anticipating a period of unbridled explosion of new ideas and experiments, and it’s going to look like the early days of the internet.”
What is Bard, and how is it different from ChatGPT?
Google’s Bard would be like ChatGPT in that users will have to put in a question or request or give a prompt to receive a human-like response.
ChatGPT, which was released to the public last November, can be anything the user makes of it — it can take on the role of a chef and provide recipes, make business plans for marketers, create press releases for public relations specialists or give advice like a therapist.
Both Microsoft and Google plan to embed AI tools to bolster their search services Bing and Google Search, which make up a large portion of revenue. The biggest difference between the two is Bard’s ability to include recent events in responses. Bard will draw on information from the internet, while ChatGPT has access to data from various sources that is up to date as of 2021.
Bard is currently available to “trusted testers” before becoming more available to the public in “the coming weeks,” Pichai said in the blog post.
“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses,” Pichai wrote.
“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 nine-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills.”
Why is Google pushing this out now?
The timescale for AI disruption is “very short,” Daley said. He said it was “interesting” how Google announced its product without a release, the opposite of what OpenAI did with ChatGPT.
It feels “reactionary,” but the implementation of this technology is not far away, Daley said, citing Microsoft’s Jan. 23 multi-billion-dollar investment in OpenAI.
Read more: Will ChatGPT take your job? New program shows AI could be ‘competing’ for work, experts say
“Microsoft is a company full of talented engineers. If they wanted to create their own version … they can do that in six to 12 months, but Microsoft leadership, I think, correctly understood the time scale of six to 12 months is way too long. We need this tomorrow,” he said.
“Google is feeling that same pressure. This is the moment of phase transition. This is the moment where everything changes, and they want to keep market share.”
Google isn’t the only tech company trying to take on ChatGPT. China’s Alibaba Group on Wednesday said it was developing a ChatGPT-style artificial intelligence tool, and that it was currently in internal testing. Chinese search giant Baidu announced on Tuesday it was completing internal testing for a chatbot it called “Ernie.”
“It’s fantastic news for us as consumers and citizens to have this level of focused competition,” Daley said.
“It would be a poor outcome if one or two companies were to control all of the good generative AI.”
How could these AI tools impact the marketplace?
ChatGPT’s release hasn’t been met fully with praise.
Its public release has raised concerns about plagiarism, prompting one top French university to ban the use of ChatGPT, Reuters reported on Jan. 27. The tool has also raised questions about misinformation.
Several Canadian universities are crafting policies on ChatGPT usage, and OpenAI announced Jan. 31 that it was releasing a new tool that can help teachers detect work not written by the student who submitted it.
Varun Mayya, CEO of software building company Avalon Scenes, previously told Global News that generative AI tools can be taught the difference between accurate and inaccurate information – so flaws today may not exist tomorrow.
Pichai said in the blog post that Google is committed to developing its AI “responsibly.” Consumers will eventually find out which tool is more reliable than the other, Daley said.
“You’ll see that overall, as a cohort, consumers are pretty good at finding and supporting the products that serve their needs,” he said.
“We will see an era of incredible experimentation, and probably fairly rapidly convergence to the tools that are actually meeting the needs of the people who are meant to use them.”
— with files from Reuters
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