Google has finally cracked and announced a rival to ChatGPT called Bard – an “experimental conversational AI service” that will be released to the public in “coming weeks”.
Like ChatGPT, the chatbot promises to be able to answer complex questions and teach you detailed topics in a conversational style. But the main difference with ChatGPT for now is that Bard will be networked allowing him to give you what says Google (opens in a new tab) it’s “fresh, high-quality answers.”
Google Bard is powered by LaMDA (short for Language Model for Dialogue Applications). Like ChatGPT, it is a type of machine learning called “large language model” that has been trained from a huge dataset and is capable of understanding human language as it is written.
Google says Bard will be open to “trusted testers” starting today, but the public will be able to start using it in the coming weeks. It’s unclear how we’ll be able to access Bard in these early stages, but Google says its AI-powered features will “begin to implement Google Search soon.”
So what exactly will Google’s Bard do for you, and how does it compare to ChatGPT, which Microsoft seems to be building into its own search engine, Bing? Here’s everything you need to know about it.
What is Google Bard?
Like ChatGPT, Bard is a chatbot built on deep learning algorithms called “large language models”, in this case called LaMDA.
To begin with, Bard will be released on the “light model version” of LaMDA. Google says this will allow the chatbot to scale to more people because “a much smaller model requires much less computing power.”
To begin with, Bard will be in a testing phase where Google will combine our external feedback with its own internal testing. This is because, for all their advantages, chatbots have also shown a propensity for negative traits that include everything from bias to powering cyberattacks.
Opening up chatbots for public testing comes with huge benefits that Google is “excited about,” but also risks that explain why the search giant was so cautious about releasing Bard into the wild. ChatGPT’s meteoric rise, however, apparently forced it into action and accelerated the public launch of Bard.
What will Google Bard allow you to do?
So far, Google has been a little vague about Bard’s capabilities, but it has provided some examples of what it can do. In short, Bard is the next generation of Google’s search engine that has the potential to change the way we use search engines and search for information online.
Google says Bard could be “an outlet for creativity” or “a launch pad for curiosity, helping 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, then do the exercises, to develop your skills.”
Unlike traditional Google Search, Bard promises to draw on information from the web to help it answer more open-ended questions with impressive depth. For example, instead of standard questions like “how many keys does a piano have?” Bard will be able to give long answers to a more general question like “is it easier to learn piano or guitar”?
Google says such answers will appear in Search “soon”, with answers that “distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats.” According to Google, Bard will also let you do things like “plan a friend’s baby shower,” “compare two Oscar-nominated movies,” or “get lunch ideas based on what you have in the fridge.”
Combine this technology with voice assistants like the Google Assistant, and it’s not hard to see that we may soon be on our way to having computers that at least give the impression of having artificial intelligence.
Google Bard vs ChatGPT: What’s the Difference?
We’ll need to get more information from Google on how broad Bard’s abilities will be and how they’ll be integrated into products like search – and this will likely be clarified at the February 8 event. But basically the chatbot is based on similar technology to ChatGPT.
Both Bard and ChatGPT are chatbots built on “big language models”, or machine learning algorithms, that have a wide range of talents, including text generation, translation, and prompt response based on the massive datasets they’ve been trained on.
Both chatbots, or “experimental conversational AI service” as Google calls Bard, are also being fine-tuned with human interactions to steer them towards desired responses. The potential difference between the two, however, is that ChatGPT is currently not connected to the internet, meaning it has very limited knowledge of facts or events beyond 2021.
Google says Bard, meanwhile, “gets information from the web” to provide up-to-date answers. This may not be the difference between Bard and ChatGPT for a very long time – a leaked preview recently showed Microsoft’s version of Bing with ChatGPT integration, suggesting it won’t be long until we see the latter combined with Microsoft’s search engine.
Does Google Bard only give text answers?
Like ChatGPT, Google Bard will initially only respond to text prompts with your own written responses. But LaMDA isn’t the only AI technology Google has in its cupboard, and we can expect similar advances in the world of video and audio.
In addition to LaMDA, Google says it also has other AI models such as PaLM, Imagen, and MusicLM that could potentially create “entirely new ways to interact with information, from language and images to video and audio.”
While that’s pretty exciting (or a bit scary, depending on how you view AI technology), they can be a bit further ahead. Google says it’s “working on bringing the latest AI enhancements to our products,” but it’s starting with a lightweight version of LaMDA in Google Search.
We’ll no doubt learn more about Google Bard and how other AI technologies will be integrated into Maps, Google Lens, and more at the Live from Paris event on February 8 (above).