It seems that Google is ready to reveal its rival ChatGPT

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome, and Apps (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome, and Apps (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Google may soon allow the public to play with its answer to ChatGPT, the viral chatbot that uses AI to answer questions and complete tasks.

The tech giant is under pressure to find an answer to the tool, which threatens to overshadow its dominant services, including Google Search.

ChatGPT users have asked the free bot for help with a range of queries, from writing emails to helping with their homework, much to the chagrin of teachers. He even passed exams at law and business universities in the US.

With interest in the tool refusing to die, Google is planning to let people “interact directly” with its “most powerful” AI language models as a companion to Search, according to CEO Sundar Pichai.

It is unclear how the tool will work and how users will be able to interact with it on Search. The most direct difference between ChatGPT and Google Search is that the former answers your question directly, while the latter provides you with search results to scour. Google’s latest AI model could even be present at an event the company will hold on February 8, according to The Verge.

“Join us to learn how we’re opening up better access to information for people everywhere, through Search, Maps and beyond,” the company says.

Speaking during Google’s latest earnings call, Pichai said that LaMDA, the company’s AI conversational model, will be the first model people will be able to use. The company previously tested LaMDA as part of a a writing instrument which could generate prose, and through app which allows a limited number of users to chat with the chatbot.

While Google has added new AI models to its search engine in the past, these tend to work behind the scenes, making its long-running, useful service less of a nuisance. For example, the company’s Unified Multitasking Model, or MUM, is designed to reduce the amount of searching it takes to answer your question. It can also recognize both text and images, and up to 75 different languages, to deliver refined results, according to Google.

In comparison, AI company OpenAI made an immediate splash by allowing anyone to sign up to use its free ChatGPT service when it launched late last year. Users quickly began sharing their impressive responses on social media, creating a snowball effect. The bot jumped up million users in its first five days, according to its founder Sam Altman. A recent analysis suggests that the number may have risen since then 100 million users.

Seizing an opportunity to compete with Google, OpenAI investor Microsoft recently began adding ChatGPT capabilities to its tools for businesses, including its own. Azure cloud service and its premium version Teams workplace chat software.

However, it is too early to count Google out of the chatbot race. As Pichai noted, his AI models will provide “more factual and up-to-date information”, which ChatGPT cannot currently do because it has limited knowledge of global events after 2021.

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