Google Bard AI now generally available

Image: Google

Google has closed the waiting list for Bard, its generative AI chatbot, after Google announced the chatbot’s general availability at the Google I/O conference on Thursday. Bard appears to be a direct competitor to ChatGPT and GPT-4, the generative AI from startup OpenAI that Microsoft uses in its Bing Chat.

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How to use Google Bard

Now that the waiting list is closed, you can access Google Bard by visiting and registering with an existing Google Account. Accounts managed by a Google Workspace administrator are not eligible. Bard runs in Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and Aegium.

Google Bard is based on years of research

Google Bard runs on the Language Model for Conversational Applications, which is Google’s own larger language model. Google first announced that it was testing its generative AI internally in January. Google Bard is based on work done in Google’s AI Test Kitchen, which is slated to launch in August 2022. After that from March it was available through a waiting list. The tech giant has been working on a machine learning program for natural-sounding language generation since 2017.

Bard also links directly to Google Search. Most conversations include a suggested query, which Google suggests users can “check the answer”. Google announced at the I/O conference that AI will also be integrated into search.

Google Bard is only available in US English, with plans to expand to other languages. In addition, Google plans to add the ability to write code to Bard, as well as a “multimodal experience” including video and audio.

Google seeks user feedback on Bard

“Bard is experimental and some answers may be wrong,” noted Google. Google’s team even mocked some of Bard’s suggestions in their own announcement post.

Google also emphasized privacy. For example, the Waitlist version of Bard could not answer questions about what had happened before in a conversation between him and a human. According to Bard’s FAQ, Google intentionally limited Bard’s “ability to hold context”. Google asks users to send feedback on Bard’s answers.

In an internal email seen by CNBC, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai told employees, “Things will go wrong. But user feedback is important to improving the product and underlying technology.”

Google competes with Microsoft and OpenAI

The major competitor to Google Bard is OpenAI’s ChatGPT. So far, ChatGPT has the advantage of already being able to write basic code, which extends business applications.

Microsoft’s Bing search uses OpenAI’s GPT-4, the larger multimodal model on which ChatGPT is built. ChatGPT is currently available with a subscription to OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus.

Google-funded startup Anthropic has its own AI assistant, Cloud. Anthropic is partnering with DuckDuckGo in the search engine space and using Google as a cloud provider.

What technology leaders should consider before adopting AI

Chat assistance with large language model AI has been criticized for returning answers that are easy to parse but factually incorrect. There are also some concerns about on-the-job training, whether AI needs to outweigh productivity benefits, or whether AI content is replacing man-made work and thereby limiting the number of jobs available. Business leaders should consider whether generative AI is right for their work culture and whether it improves productivity.

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