Google invites the public to test Drive Bard, its ChatGPT challenger
Google opened rival ChatGPT Bard to the public in the US and UK on Tuesday, although access will require joining a waiting list.
“Today we’re starting to open up access to Bard, a first experience that lets you collaborate with generative AI,” wrote Google VP of Product Sissie Hsiao and VP of Product. research Eli Collins in a corporate blog.
They explained that Bard can be used to increase productivity, speed up idea generation, and pique curiosity.
“We’ve learned a lot from testing Bard so far,” they noted, “and the next critical step to improving it is getting feedback from more people.”
Although large language models are an exciting technology, they are not without flaws, Google executives have acknowledged. Because they learn from a wide range of information that reflects real-world biases and stereotypes, these sometimes show up in their productions, they continued. And they may provide inaccurate, misleading, or false information while presenting it in confidence.
“Our work on Bard is guided by our AI principles, and we continue to focus on quality and safety,” the pair added. “We use human feedback and rating to improve our systems, and we’ve also built in safeguards, like capping the number of exchanges in a dialog, to try to keep interactions helpful and on topic.”
Since Google unveiled Bard to the world in February, the company has been trying to catch up with Microsoft, which has introduced AI features into its products at a blistering pace.
“Google is in a panic now that Microsoft has outpaced them in the market, and they’re bleeding users, which puts them in a ‘ready or not, it’s coming’ mindset,” said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst. of the Enderle Group, a consulting services firm in Bend, Ore.
“A short time ago they were convinced he was nowhere near ready and seemed to be cutting resources so it’s unlikely he’s really ready, but they need an answer now. and clearly taking a big risk to keep Microsoft from bleeding its search engine dry,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Without a doubt, Google is in catch-up mode, argued Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.
“I think Google is under tremendous market pressure to bring Bard into the mainstream market as soon as possible, as there has been some perception that they have been caught off guard by ChatGPT’s market reception,” a- he told TechNewsWorld.
Google has been talking about its AI and machine learning work for many years, but so far it has only reached the consumer in a very limited way, observed Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology consulting firm in New York City.
“ChatGPT has really struck a chord within Google. It’s an existential threat to Google Search,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Despite pressure to close the gap with Microsoft, Bard’s pace of development remains reserved.
“Google’s pace is a little more cautious than Microsoft’s,” observed Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a news, commentary and analysis site.
“They feel like they have more to lose as a brand if Bard becomes widely available and goes off the rails,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Rubin explained that Bard is being rolled out slowly because Google is dominant in the market and wants to position the chatbot as a continuation of its existing search product.
“Microsoft has a similar rollout with its use of AI in Office,” he added.
At this point, Vena noted, the damage of the perception that Google is tracking Microsoft is done, so Google would be wise to use its resources to make Bard the best tool on the market and stop worrying about being first. .
ChatGPT vs. LaMDA
Vena added that building a waitlist while slowing Bard’s full rollout can benefit the product.
“It reinforces the perception that Bard isn’t ready for prime time,” he said. “But putting that perception aside, it’s probably a wise move on Google’s part, because a staggered release allows them to fix bugs in a measured and deliberate way, which is a good thing.”
Sterling said the waitlist also serves another purpose. “They try to control who has access and how the conversation goes around Bard by limiting access,” he said. “But in all honesty, that’s often how technology products are deployed.”
Hsiao and Collins noted that currently Bard is powered by a stripped down and optimized version of Google’s large search language model LaMDA, but the offering will be updated with newer and better models over time.
“Bard doesn’t seem as powerful as GPT-4, which OpenAI recently released, but since it’s connected to the internet, that makes a difference in what it can rely on to answer questions,” observed analyst Will Duffield. policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC think tank.
“Bard works best as a personal assistant, but isn’t as good at deep analytical tasks, such as handing him a set of video game patch notes and asking him how they’re going to change the state of the game or ask him to analyze a Supreme Court transcript,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Multiple responses to queries
Vena explained that LaMDA is specifically designed for natural language conversations and aims to be more context-aware than previous language models. He has been trained on a wide range of topics and could potentially be used in various conversational applications, such as chatbots, voice assistants and customer service tools.
Microsoft’s large language model, on the other hand, he continued, was not designed specifically for dialog applications, but rather for a more general understanding of language. Microsoft has worked on several language models that strive to improve natural language processing and generation in various applications, including translation, sentiment analysis, and question answering.
Bard also deviates from ChatGPT by producing multiple drafts of its query responses. “It gives users more flexibility to examine multiple query results, and that’s a good thing, in my opinion,” Vena said.
While offering multiple drafts gives consumers more choice and information, Sterling noted, it also appears to be a safeguard against user criticism.
Overall, he added, Google is more cautious in its messaging and presentation on Bard than Microsoft has been on Bing.
“Bing is bolder,” he said. “Microsoft has less to lose and is eager to adopt AI chat as an evolution of Bing.”
“To Google,” he continued, “this seems to be more of a new add-on that will get better over time. They downplay it as a replacement for search. This is partly to condition user expectations and to shape broader market perceptions.”
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