Yesterday in a blog post, Google announced the opening of access to Bard, its new AI-powered chatbot; and likely answer to OpenAI’s wildly popular ChatGPT. The announcement also comes as Microsoft released its new AI-powered version of the search engine, Bing. As of right now, open access to Bard is limited to the United States, and the United Kingdom, but the team shared that they’re looking to expand access for collaborative feedback from users.
While it is unclear whether Bard offers any features that are significantly different or better than that of their Microsoft counterpart Bing, Google’s reputation and dominance in the market means that the company still possesses a strong advantage thanks to user habits. This means that for Microsoft, they would need to remove active users from Google to make up market share. In short, Bard just needs to do what it promises, and not necessarily revolutionize the search engine user experience.
Bard is powered by a research large language model, specifically a lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA. It is grounded in Google’s understanding of quality information and is designed to be a prediction engine. When given a prompt, Bard generates a response by selecting one word at a time, from words that are likely to come next. However, to avoid repetitive or uncreative responses, there is some flexibility factored in.
While LLMs are an exciting technology, they are not without their faults. They learn from a wide range of information that reflects real-world biases and stereotypes, which can sometimes show up in their outputs. Additionally, they can provide inaccurate, misleading, or false information while presenting it confidently. For example, when asked to share a couple of suggestions for easy indoor plants, Bard convincingly presented ideas but got some things wrong, such as the scientific name for the ZZ plant.
Google’s work on Bard is guided by its AI Principles, which focus on both quality and safety. The way this works is by using human feedback and evaluation to improve the systems, and guardrails, such as capping the number of exchanges in a dialogue, are built-in to keep interactions helpful and on-topic.
The release of Bard by Google is a significant development in the AI-powered chatbot space as large language models become more popular. While it may not offer any groundbreaking features compared to its competitors, Bard is boosted by Google’s dominance in the marketplace, though that does not guarantee a specific share of users.