Google CEO Sundar Pichai just announced in a Feb. 6, 2023 blog post that the company plans to release its latest experimental conversational AI service Bard, which will expand the company’s current AI offerings.
Bard, an artificial intelligence chatbot technology, will initially be tested globally by a limited group of trusted testers and made available to a wider users base in the coming weeks.
In Sundar Pichai’s words, the tool provides an “experimental conversational AI service” that answers users’ questions and participates in conversations, much like OpenAI’s ChatGPT does.
“Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to 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, and then get drills to build your skills.”
Pichai also notes that Bard “draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses”.
This is an important difference to ChatGPT, which is based on data from 2021 and therefore cannot answer questions about current events.
I actually asked ChatGPT about Google’s Bard and got an answer about BERT, one of Google’s first AI-based language models released in 2018 – which is related but not a useful answer.
In Alphabet’s 2022 Q4 earnings call, posted on the official Alphabet Investor Relations YouTube channel on the Feb. 3 2023, Sundar Pichai had talked about the company’s plans to “unlock the incredible opportunities AI enables” and said that the technology is “reach[ing] an inflection point.”
He also said that it was Google’s earlier AI research that helped spawn “the generative AI applications you’re starting to see today,” and that Google has been planning to work intensively on AI since 2021 and prepare to publicly release AI tools within the next few months in 2023.
Google is hosting an event on Feb. 8 2023 about its new conversational AI and how its other AI technologies will integrate into search, maps and more.
The 40-minute event will be livestreamed on YouTube and will focus on how Google is
“using the power of AI to reimagine how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need”.
Google’s enthusiasm and strong activity around AI may be related to the pressure it is facing from Microsoft, which is reportedly planning to integrate ChatGPT into Bing, Office and several other products and platforms.
The ChatGPT integration will allow Bing to offer smarter summaries and results, something Google has struggled to do.
And funnily enough, just minutes after Sundar Pichai announced Bard, Microsoft announced that there would be a surprise in-person event at its Redmond headquarters exactly one day before Google hosts its own AI event. Microsoft’s AI event will be held on Feb. 7 2023.
Open AI CEO Sam Altman took to Twitter to share a picture of himself and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, indicating that the event is likely to feature Microsoft’s ChatGPT integration into Bing, the company’s search engine, and Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI.
Microsoft event indeed comes just days after Microsoft extended its OpenAI partnership in a $10 billion deal that will see it become the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI.
On Jan. 23 2023 Microsoft actually announced a new multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment with the artificial intelligence lab OpenAI, which represents the third phase of the partnership, following Microsoft’s previous investments in 2019 and 2021.