Google is gearing up for a fight after it unveiled its own artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Bard, in a direct hit back against the widely-popular and Microsoft-backed ChatGPT that was created by OpenAI.
Bard, which has been in the works for months, is finally being opened up to trusted testers ahead of it being made available to the public. Its release follows Google's massive layoffs that saw about 12,000 roles being made vacant. When Google and Alphabet’s CEO, Sundar Pichai announced the layoffs in an email sent to staff and that was also put up on the tech giant's website, he mentioned that cutting staffing costs would help to push the company's AI agenda.
"Being constrained in some areas allows us to bet big on others. Pivoting the company to be AI-first years ago led to groundbreaking advances across our businesses and the whole industry," he wrote.
So, what is Bard and could it really pose a threat to ChatGPT? MARKETING-INTERACTIVE dug deeper to find out more.
What is Bard?
Bard is an artificial intelligence chatbot technology that Google plans to roll out in the coming weeks. The system is powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) and is a conversational AI service that seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language model, according to a statement by Google and Alphabet’s CEO, Sundar Pichai on its website. It reportedly draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses, which is similar to ChatGPT which has a scarily human-like ability to produce well-researched content in seconds.
“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,” wrote Google.
Could it really be a threat to ChatGPT?
Some of the concerns surrounding ChatGPT now include the fact that ChatGPT does not always provide factual information, something that was admitted by OpenAI themselves.
According to OpenAI, ChatGPT has the potential to sometimes write “plausible sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers”. It is also sensitive to tweaks to the input phrasing or attempting the same prompt multiple times. “The model is [also] often excessively verbose and overuses certain phrases, such as restating that it’s a language model trained by OpenAI.”
However, Google’s Bard is already starting well ahead with a significant and extensive background of using AI to improve search functions for users.
“BERT, one of our first transformer models, was revolutionary in understanding the intricacies of human language. Two years ago, we introduced MUM, which is 1,000 times more powerful than BERT and has next-level and multi-lingual understanding of information which can pick out key moments in videos and provide critical information, including crisis support, in more languages,” said Pichai. Now, he continued, its newest AI technologies such as LaMDA, PaLM, Imagen and MusicLM are building on the success of its predecessors to further engage with information, languages, audio, images and video and that it is timely.
He noted that more people are turning to Google for deeper insights and understanding and that people want to be able to get a diverse range of opinions and perspectives. “AI can be helpful in these moments, synthesising 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, 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,” he said.
This is something that ChatGPT is still working on improving.
True enough, industry players also agree that Bard may have a leg up over ChatGPT mainly because they are training their model with semi-live data which will opens up an entirely new set of potential, according to Vishnu Mohan, the partner and chief growth officer in Asia Pacific for Dept Agency, a technology and marketing services company.
"Combining search results with a chatbot assistant is very cool because it helps slightly neutralise the black-box element of ChatGPT, and reduces the threat of the death of critical thinking where the AI does all the work and doesn't give a 'where to go next' for users. Time will tell, but it most certainly has the ability to compete or even outpace ChatGPT," he said.
Agreeing with Mohan, Oo Gin Lee, the managing director of Gloo PR added that tech companies are constantly disrupting each other, and that time will tell what the success of Bard over ChatGPT will be. "Right now, Google is panicking because Microsoft has invested billions in Open AI and has announced that it will be revamping its Bing search engine using artificial intelligence," he said.
"So ChatGPT is essentially coming for Google whose business largely lies in search and that's why they are rapidly introducing new platforms such as Bard to compete against them. Google clearly has the tech to compete with ChatGPT. It just needs to build into it," he concluded.
When will it be released?
Currently, Bard is being released to select testers with a lightweight model version of LaMDA. “This much smaller model requires significantly less computing power, enabling us to scale to more users, allowing for more feedback,” said Pichai. He added that Google will be combining external feedback with its own internal testing to make sure that Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.
“We’re excited for this phase of testing to help us continue to learn and improve Bard’s quality and speed,” said Pichai.