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“Combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with power, intelligence and creativity”: Google announces ChatGPT rival Bard

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Just last week, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai confirmed that they are on track to release generative AI applications in a few weeks.

But with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus and the imminent release of Microsoft’s AI-powered “answer engine”, looks like the timeline has been accelerated. 

Google has just announced an experimental conversational AI service called Bard, which is being opened up to “trusted testers” ahead of making it more widely available to the public, in the coming weeks.

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.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet

According to Google, 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, and then get drills to build your skills.

The rushed announcement and lack of information about Bard are telltale signs of the “code red” triggered at Google by ChatGPT’s launch last year. Although ChatGPT’s underlying technology is not revolutionary, OpenAI’s decision to make the system freely available on the web exposed millions to this novel form of automated text generation.

The effects have been seismic, with discussions about the impact of ChatGPT on education, work, and — of particular interest to Google — the future of internet search.

James Vincent, Senior Reporter for The Verge

Bard is powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA for short).The platform will initially operate on a “lightweight” version of LaMDA, requiring less power so that more people can use it at once.

Notably, Pichai did not announce plans to integrate Bard into the search box that powers Google’s profits. Instead he showcased a novel, and cautious, use of the underlying AI technology to enhance conventional search.

For questions for which there is no single agreed-on answer, Google will synthesize a response that reflects the differing opinions.

Will Knight, Senior Writer for WIRED

Sundar says AI can be helpful in these moments, combining insights for questions where there’s no one right answer. 

“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats,” he wrote, “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.” 

These new AI features will begin rolling out on Google Search soon.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet

Google is also holding an event focusing on AI, search, and more on Wednesday. Expect to hear more about Brad, this time “live from Paris”.