Google Unveils Its ChatGPT Rival

Google released its own AI chatbot similar to ChatGPT on Monday called Bard. 

“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence, and creativity of our large language models,” Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai tweeted Monday. “It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses.”

Powering Bard is Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). The company says its new AI will use information from the web to make creative responses to queries or provide detailed info on questions asked. 

Bard will be made available on Monday to selected testers and will be available to the public in the coming weeks..

Google didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Bard uses a lightweight version of LaMDA, according to a blog post by CEO Sundar Pichai. This model uses less computing power, allowing it to scale to more people and allowing additional feedback. Pichai pressed that feedback will be critical in meeting Google’s “high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.”

Don’t expect Google rival Microsoft to stand still. CEO Satya Nadella is announcing “progress on a few exciting projects” at a press event at the company’s headquarters on Tuesday, according to an invitation. Microsoft plans to integrate ChatGPT into its technology, and this event could be where details are announced.

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ChatGPT uses artificial intelligence technology called a large language model, trained on vast swaths of data on the internet. That type of model uses an AI mechanism called a transformer that Google pioneered. ChatGPT’s success in everything from writing software, passing exams, and offering advice, in the style of the King James Bible, on removing a sandwich from a VCR has propelled it into the tech spotlight, even though its results can be misleading or wrong.

AI technology already is all around us, helping in everything from flagging credit card fraud to translating our speech into text messages. The ChatGPT technology has elevated expectations, though, so it’s clear the technology will become more important in our lives one way or another as we rely on digital assistants and online tools.

Google AI subsidiary DeepMind also is involved. Chief Executive Demis Hassabis told Time that his company is considering a 2023 private beta test of an AI chatbot called Sparrow.

Google detailed transformers in 2017, and it’s since become a fixture of some of the biggest AI systems out there. Nvidia’s new H100 processor, the top dog in the world of AI acceleration at least in terms of public speed tests, now includes specific circuitry to accelerate transformers.

The large language model (LLM) revolution in AI that resulted is useful for language-specific systems like ChatGPT, Google’s LaMDA and newer PaLM, and others from companies including AI21 Labs, Adept AI Labs and Cohere. But LLMs are used for other tasks, too, including stacking boxes and processing genetic data to hunt for new drugs. Notably, they’re good at generating text, which is why they can be used for answering questions.

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Google, which endured bad publicity over the departure of AI researcher Timnit Gebru in 2020, has a program focusing on responsible AI and machine learning, or ML, technology. “Building ML models and products in a responsible and ethical manner is both our core focus and core commitment,” Google Research Vice President Marian Croak said in a January post.

Google is keen to tout its deep AI expertise. ChatGPT triggered a “code red” emergency within Google, according to The New York Times, and drew Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin back into active work.

Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to create some personal finance explainers that are edited and fact-checked by our editors. For more, see this post.

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