The tech world is talking about Google’s new conversational chatbot called Bard. It’s a generative AI, which means it can make something that didn’t exist before. The thing it makes best is text. This can be text that you tell it to make by giving it a few keywords, or it can be a well-thought-out answer to a question based on information from all over the internet. But no matter how smart Bard is, it’s still a tool, and it’s up to you to figure out how to use it best.
Learn the basics of Google Bard
Google Bard is a type of artificial intelligence called a “large language model.” This is just a fancy way of saying that it has been trained with a lot of different text so that it can better understand questions and give more complete answers. It is based on Google’s own LaMDA language model, which has been in the works for years. If you want to learn more about Bard, like what its name means and how it came to be, check out our full Google Bard explainer.
Register for Google Bard
Google Bard is still in the early stages of testing, so you need the invitation to use it. But it’s easy to sign up for an invite—just go to Google’s signup page and click or tap the Join Waitlist button. Google will send you an email with instructions on how to join the Bard beta programme, but it could take anywhere from days to weeks to get an invite after you ask for one.
Understand Google Bard’s limitations
Bard tries not to answer questions that might cause trouble, like political comments that go beyond basic information about candidates or questions that might be NSFW or culturally frowned upon. Since Bard is almost science fiction, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics apply here: 1. A robot must not hurt a person. 2. A robot must follow an order unless it goes against the first law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as it doesn’t go against the first two laws. This seems to be a violation of Rule 3.
Bard is not yet able to make code for programmers, which is something ChatGPT does very well. This also applies to code for spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, though these features could be added in a future update.
It almost never answers medical questions. Bard usually won’t even try to point you in the right direction or give you background information. Instead, it prefers that you talk to a doctor. Even when asked simple questions like “how should I treat a stubbed toe” or “what should I take for a headache,” it says it can’t help.
Bard can’t get information from your Google account the way it works now. So things that the Google Assistant could help with, like finding restaurants near you or controlling IoT devices from your Google Home account, are not up Bard’s alley. Google will eventually add Bard to Search and Assistant, which will blow everyone’s mind with its unique combination of personal data and the smarts to use it. Until then, though, you should think of Bard and Assistant as two separate products.
Play to Google Bard’s Strengths
Bard will give you a good answer if Google Search would give you a Knowledge Graph Card. This includes quick facts about famous people and places, information about books, movies, or TV shows, and recipes or information about how to stay healthy.
Bard is a good place to look if you need help with math or something that is very fact-based. Ask it to help you with your algebra homework or an excerpt from your history or science book, and it will probably know what to do.
When it comes to current events, Bard can be hit or miss, but it’s much better than ChatGPT. When you ask, “What’s the best phone to buy?” you might get a list of phones from last year, for example. But if you ask Bard who is expected to be picked first overall in the NBA Draft, it will tell you about this year’s draught class instead of the one from two or three years ago, like ChatGPT.
The one thing that Bard does really well, though, is making text. If you give it some basic information about the world, it can make up a whole story for you. It can write your next email if you give it a few bullet points and tell it whether you want to use a formal or informal tone.
Use Google Bard to Find the Information You’re Looking For
As you use Bard, pay attention to the controls you can use to change the answers it gives you. If you click “View other draughts,” you’ll see some of the other answers that Bard has come up with. If you choose one, the result will be different, which is useful for things like writing prompts.
You’ll also see thumbs up and thumbs down buttons on responses. Use these to help train Bard and let the service know when it’s wrong. The last control you should be aware of is the Google it button. When you click this, your text will be rewritten as a Google Search query, which will help you find answers using web links.
Like any other tool, Google Bard has some best practices that you should follow to get the most out of it.
First, don’t be afraid to ask any question you have about it. Since you’re not using a search engine, just talk to it in everyday language. You don’t have to say the words the right way, and small mistakes are usually fine. Sometimes you can even use the wrong words, and it will usually understand what you mean.
You are welcome to ask more questions. Each conversation in the prerelease tool is exactly that: a conversation. The AI remembers what was going on in the chat earlier, so you don’t have to keep naming the subject. Instead, you can just say “it” or “that” to refer to the subject of a previous question.
Lastly, try to get an answer. It can sometimes be wrong, so make sure the chatbot is following you by looking at the whole conversation. If you think an answer is wrong, you can ask, “But I thought…” or “Didn’t you just say…” and the answer will correct itself or make more sense.
Google Bard doesn’t have a mobile app for Android or iOS right now, and it’s not clear if it ever will. At the moment, the only way to use Bard is through its website, which works well on both desktop and mobile browsers. Google has said that it wants to add Bard to Google Search in the long run. By that time, it should be using the full version of LaMDA and a much bigger language model. We’ll just have to deal with its quirks and limitations until then while Google improves Bard’s features.
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