Google introduced a new chatbot tool dubbed “Bard” on Monday, ostensibly to compete with ChatGPT’s viral success.

In a blog post, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent firm Alphabet, announced that Bard will be made accessible to “trusted testers” on Monday, with intentions to release it to the general public “in the coming weeks.”

Bard, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which was given to the public at the end of November, is based on a huge language model. These models are trained on massive web data troves to create persuasive responses to user requests.

Pichai said that Bard aims to integrate the richness of the world’s knowledge with the strength, intelligence, and creativity of our massive language models. It utilises web-based data to generate new, high-quality replies.

It is commonly believed that Google’s primary product, online search, is currently under its worst threat in years. In the two months since its release to the public, ChatGPT has been used to generate essays, stories, and song lyrics, in addition to providing answers to some questions that were previously answered by Google.

According to reports, Google’s management has declared a “code red” situation for its search company due to the huge attention on ChatGPT. Paul Buchheit, one of the creators of Gmail, cautioned in a tweet from 2016 that Google “may be only a year or two away from total disruption” owing to the advent of artificial intelligence.

Microsoft, which has acknowledged plans to invest billions in OpenAI, has already stated that it will integrate the tool into some of its products; it is also rumoured that it will integrate it into its Bing search engine. Microsoft’s Washington headquarters will host a news event on Tuesday, the topic of which has not yet been disclosed. Microsoft announced the event immediately after Google’s AI-related revelation was made public on Monday.

The technology that underpins Bard has existed for some decades, but it is not publicly accessible to the general population. Google introduced its Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA) almost two years ago, and the company said on Monday that this technology will power Bard. A former Google developer made waves late last year by asserting that LaMDA was “sentient.” The AI community questioned his assertions extensively.

Google used the example of a user asking Bard to describe recent discoveries made by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in a way that a 9-year-old would find intriguing in a blog post published on Monday. Bard provides conversational bullet points as a response. The first one states, “In 2023, the JWST discovered a handful of galaxies with the moniker ‘green peas.'” They were given this name because they resemble peas in size, shape, and colour.

According to Google’s website, Bard may be used to arrange a baby shower for a friend, compare two Oscar-nominated films, and generate lunch suggestions based on the contents of your refrigerator.

Pichai also stated on Monday that AI-powered tools will soon be included into Google’s Search engine.

“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distil complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly grasp the big picture and learn more from the web,” Pichai wrote.

If Google moves farther in the direction of embedding an AI chatbot into its search engine, there could be potential downsides. Experts have emphasised that because these tools are trained on internet data, they have the ability to perpetuate prejudices and disseminate false information.

“It is essential,” Pichai wrote in his blog post, “that we provide experiences based on these models to the world in a courageous and responsible manner.”

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