Google is opening its new AI chat service Bard up for beta testing today, with plans to make the conversational AI platform available to the general public in “the coming weeks.”
ChatGPT has been stealing headlines in recent months, and was just dubbed the fastest-growing consumer app ever. Soon it'll have some serious compition from Bard, with other peers and competitors expected to emerge in the near future as well.
Bard is powered by Google's Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA). But in theory, the basic framework that the system operates with works similarly every other conversational AI: It draws on information from the internet, converting that data into original responses to questions or other input from users.
What Does Bard Do?
Bard is designed to help with general questions, sort of like how the core Google search engine already functions. Users might use the Bard service to compare two Oscar-winning movies or to plan a friend's baby shower, according to the blog post announcement.
While the search engine might have answered questions like “how many keys does a piano have?,” the AI-powered advancement aims to answer more complex queries such as “is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?”
There are plenty of challenges to overcome when creating an artificial intelligence that can actually give helpful responses across a massive range of research categories, of course. The number of programs that have even come close to cracking the issue is low.
As a result, Bard won't emerge fully formed even when it is released to the public. Here's how Sundar Pichai explains it in the blog post:
“We're releasing it initially with our 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. We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.”
Google Is All In On AI
Google and its parent company Alphabet are betting big on the future of AI. As Pichai says, the company has already “re-oriented” itself around AI six years ago, and today the “scale of the largest AI computations is doubling every six months.”
Bard isn't the only AI platform in Google's arsenal, either: As we covered last week, other services in the works include AI-powered image generation, a question-and-answer search function for desktop, and a video clip summarizing function.
If this bet pays off, we'll see AI chatbots continue to appear to supplement or replace human customer service across every consumer industry.
It'll be used to streamline business software as well. The current AI darling, ChatGPT, may be dovetailing with another search engine company, as Microsoft has today announced a surprise event that many expect will reveal a ChatGPT/Bing connection. If true, this makes sense, as Microsoft Teams Premium already uses the same technology behind ChatGPT.
Given the power Google has within the tech industry, it's hard to imagine Bard not giving ChatGPT a run for its money when it releases in the near future.