Google Pits Bard Against ChatGPT

02/07/2023
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    A sign on a Google building at the company’s campus in Mountain View, California. (AP/Jeff Chiu)

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Google is preparing for a battle of artificial wits. On Monday, the company announced a new AI tool. “Bard” is the company’s answer to the popular ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai released a blogpost Monday. He says the company’s new chatbot should be able to explain complex subjects in simple terms. Bard will also perform mundane tasks, such as providing party planning tips or lunch ideas based on what food is left in a refrigerator. Pichai didn’t say whether Bard will be able to write like William Shakespeare, the playwright who apparently inspired the service’s name.

“Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity,” Pichai writes.

Many experts believe AI will transform lifestyles—just as personal computers, the internet, and smartphones have in the past 40 years.

Pichai has stressed the importance of AI for the past six years. One of the results of that emphasis is a system called “Language Model for Dialogue Applications,” or LaMDA. He says LaMDA will power Bard.

Google also plans to begin using LaMDA and other AI advances in its top search engine. LaMDA should help provide better answers to the increasingly complicated questions asked by Google’s billion-plus users.

Google announced Bard’s existence less than two weeks after Microsoft disclosed that it is pouring billions of dollars into OpenAI. OpenAI makes the wildly popular program ChatGPT, which can write readable text.

In another sign of Google’s commitment to AI, officials announced that the company is investing in and partnering with Anthropic. That AI startup is headed by some former OpenAI leaders. Anthropic has built its own AI chatbot named Claude.

Bard is part of Google’s “code red” effort to counter the success of ChatGPT. Since its general release late last year, ChatGPT has attracted tens of millions of users.

The service is so popular that even The Associated Press tried out ChatGPT. Staff used the tool to write several sample speeches ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

But these speeches come with a twist. Reporters asked ChatGPT to write in the style of some of history’s most famous people. These included Aristotle, Cleopatra, Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson—and Shakespeare.

Here’s an excerpt of ChatGPT’s State of the Union speech in the style of the original Bard: “And now, my friends, I bid thee all farewell, / And trust that thou wilt work, with heart and will, / For the good of all, and the betterment of man, / Together we shall build, a stronger, better land.”

While it sounds terribly clichéd, it’s not too bad for a ’bot, we suppose. 

(A sign on a Google building at the company’s campus in Mountain View, California. AP/Jeff Chiu)