Google just announced that the company is releasing its ChatGPT competitor Bard. But chances are you won’t be able to access the product right away as the company is starting with a limited public rollout.
Users in the U.K. and the U.S. can head over to bard.google.com and join a waitlist. The company calls Bard an “early experiment that lets you collaborate with generative AI.”
Like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing chatbot, Bard is a chatbot based on a large language model. You can interact with Bard to ask questions and refine the answer with follow-up queries.
“You can use Bard to boost your productivity, accelerate your ideas and fuel your curiosity. You might ask Bard to give you tips to reach your goal of reading more books this year, explain quantum physics in simple terms or spark your creativity by outlining a blog post,” Google VP of Product Sissie Hsiao and Google VP of Research Eli Collins wrote in a blog post.
When Google first unveiled Bard last month, there wasn’t much to see other than a lengthy blog post written by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The model used in Bard is based on Google’s own LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) — the company is using a lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA.
In a conference in Paris, Google explained that Bard would work particularly well for “NORA” queries — questions to which there’s “no one right answer.” Of course, conversational AI also raises questions when it comes to accuracy, sources of information and ethical stopgaps.
In its blog post, Google shared a few screenshots of its chatbot product. Users are first presented with a blank chatbox with a disclaimer right under it that says “Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views.”
There are a few sample prompts but users are free to type whatever they want in the text field. After that, Bard loads the answer and displays it all at once. It doesn’t feel like Bard is writing a word-by-word answer, but Google says that it works pretty much like other generative AI chatbots. It comes up with the next word based on the previous words.
At the bottom of the answer, you can rate the answer with a thumbs up or thumbs down, restart the conversation or click on a “Google It” button to switch to Google’s search engine.
Unlike Microsoft’s Bing chatbot, Bard doesn’t have footnotes with web sources. Those footnotes can help you check the accuracy of the answer. If you aren’t satisfied with Bard’s answer, Google also gives you the ability to view more answers for the same query. You have to click in the top-right corner named “View other drafts” to load more answers.
Right now, Bard is a separate product from Google’s search engine. It seems like you can’t interact with Bard from the search results. But Bard will certainly foster some debates about plagiarism and the relationship between Google and third-party websites. This isn’t a new issue as Google already tries to give instant answers on Google.com without having to visit a separate website.
In other words, today’s limited release of Bard is the first step of a long process. It’s going to be interesting to see how people interact with the product when the product becomes more widely available, and how regulators and content creators feel about Google’s new product.