The ChatGPT rival will draw from Google’s vast library of information – but isn’t ready for business yet.
Google has opened up a wait list for Bard, its generative AI chatbot, the tech giant announced on Tuesday. Bard appears to be a direct competitor of ChatGPT and GPT-4, the generative AI from startup OpenAI, which Microsoft uses in its Bing Chat.
How to sign up for the Google Bard wait list
To sign up for the Google Bard wait list, visit bard.google.com and register with an existing Google account. Accounts managed by a Google Workspace admin are not eligible. Bard runs in Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and Edgium.
Google Bard builds on years of research
Google Bard runs on Language Model for Dialogue Applications, Google’s own large language model. Google first announced it was working on testing its generative AI in-house in January. Google Bard is based on work done in Google’s AI Test Kitchen, which launched in August 2022. Before that, the tech giant worked on a machine learning program for generating natural-sounding language starting in 2017.
Bard also hooks directly into Google search. Most conversations come with a suggested search attached, which Google suggests users can do to “check the response.” Interestingly, so far Google does not have any announcements about integrating the natural language chat function into general searching.
Google Bard is only available in U.S. English, with plans to expand it to other languages. In addition, Google plans to add the ability to write code to Bard, as well as “multimodal experiences,” which includes video and audio.
Google wants user feedback about Bard
“Bard is experimental, and some of the responses may be inaccurate,” Google pointed out. The team at Google even poked fun at some of Bard’s suggestions in its own announcement post.
Google also emphasized privacy. The version of Bard that will be available through the wait list can’t answer questions about what happened earlier in a conversation between itself and a human, for example. According to the Bard FAQ, Google purposely limited Bard’s “ability to hold context.” Google is asking for users to send feedback on Bard’s responses.
In an internal email viewed by CNBC, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai told employees, “Things will go wrong. But the user feedback is critical to improving the product and the underlying technology.”
Google is competing with Microsoft and OpenAI
Google Bard’s big name competitor is OpenAI’s ChatGPT. So far, ChatGPT has the advantage of already being able to write basic code, expanding its enterprise applications significantly.
Microsoft’s Bing search uses OpenAI’s GPT-4, the large multimodal model on which ChatGPT is built. ChatGPT is currently available with a subscription to OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus.
Startup Anthropic, which has gained funding from Google, has its own AI assistant, Claude. Anthropic is playing in the search engine space with a partnership with DuckDuckGo while using Google as a cloud provider.
What tech leaders should consider before using AI
Chat assistance made with large language model AI have faced criticism for returning answers that are easily parsed but factually incorrect. There are also some concerns about the job training AI requires outweighing the productivity benefits, or AI content replacing human-made work and, therefore, limiting numbers of available jobs. Business leaders should take into account whether generative AI is appropriate for their workplace culture as well as whether it improves productivity.