Google said Monday it will release a chatbot called Bard, which will set up an artificial intelligence show with Microsoft, which has invested billions in the creators of ChatGPT, the popular language app that mimics human writing.
ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, a San Francisco company, became a sensation for its ability to write essays, poems or programming code on demand within seconds, prompting widespread fears of cancellation or entire careers becoming obsolete.
Microsoft announced last month that it was supporting OpenAI and has begun integrating ChatGPT features into its Teams platform, hoping to adapt the app to its Office suite and Bing search engine.
The potential inclusion of Bing has put the spotlight on Google and speculation that the company’s global search engine could face unprecedented competition from an AI-powered rival.
Media reports said ChatGPT’s overnight success was designated a “code red” threat by Google and founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page — who left several years ago — returned with brainstorming and quick response.
The pressure to act was increased by the poor earnings posted last week by Google-parent Alphabet, which did not meet much of the expectations of the investors. The company announced last month that it was laying off 12,000 people as they put more emphasis on AI projects.
Google’s announcement came on the eve of Microsoft’s AI-related launch event in another sign that the two tech giants will battle the technology, also known as generative AI.
“Generative AI is a game changer and much like the rise of the internet that sank the networking giants that came before it (AOL, CompuServe etc.) has the ability to change the competitive dynamics for search and information,” said the independent technology analyst Rob Enderle. .
“Google is still alive largely from the fact that their search engine is the most widely used, this could change, relegating them to history,” he said.
– ‘High quality answers’ –
In a blog post on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Google’s conversational AI Bard was set to go out for testing with a plan to make it more widely available “in the coming weeks.”
Google’s Bard is based on LaMDA, the firm’s Interactive Application Language Model system, and has been in development for several years.
“Bard tries to combine the breadth of world knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our great language models,” said Pichai.
“It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality answers,” he said, pointing out that the app would provide up-to-date answers, which ChatGPT is unable to do.
Before the advent of ChatGPT, which was released in late November, Google was reluctant to launch its own language-based AI for fear of risking the reputation of technology that wasn’t ready to be released.
Researchers using the same language models as Bard or ChatGPT have demonstrated the technology’s ability to expose misinformation or nonsense on a potentially massive scale.
Facebook owner Meta was forced in November to release its own large language model called Galactica after three days when users shared its biased and incorrect results on social media within hours of its release.
Pichai insisted that the answers provided by the Bard would “hit a high bar in terms of quality, safety and the real-world basis of information”.
And like ChatGPT, Bard would get its answers from a limited version of its original language model to reduce computing power and reach a wider audience.
Due to its duel with Microsoft, it is imperative that users see AI-powered features in their search engine soon.
New-style responses would “distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats,” Pichai said.
Search engines powered by generational AI will “give structured answers to questions and no longer links,” Thierry Poibeau, from the CNRS research center in Paris, told AFP.
But bots like ChatGPT “also give wrong answers, which is annoying for a search engine,” Poibeau said.