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Google has launched its AI chatbot, “Bard,” in a limited beta access program that is intended to complement its main search service. The company has described Bard as an “experiment” and warned users that it is still a work in progress and may not always function as intended. The chatbot was previously only available to “trusted testers,” but Google is now opening it up to a wider audience to gather feedback and improve the program. While it remains to be seen how successful Bard will be, this is another step forward in Google’s ongoing efforts to integrate AI into its products and services.
Bard is powered by Google’s in-house artificial intelligence software, LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), which is designed to use large amounts of data to predict how to respond to human queries. Like other chatbots, Bard is essentially a language prediction machine, focused more on producing a rhetorical response that sounds accurate than providing factual information. While this approach may not be suitable for all use cases, it can be useful for providing conversationally engaging interactions and improving user engagement.
Google has acknowledged that its AI program, Bard, is not without its flaws, and its CEO, Sundar Pichai, has stated that the program will only improve with user feedback. Pichai has also warned Google employees that “things will go wrong” with the chatbot initially. In fact, during its initial demo last month, Bard made a significant mistake, generating incorrect information about the James Webb Space Telescope, which was then printed in the company’s promotional materials. While this is undoubtedly a setback for the program, it serves as a reminder that AI technology is still in its early stages and requires ongoing refinement and improvement.
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Google says in a blog post, “While LLMs are an exciting technology, they are not without their faults. For instance, because they learn from a wide range of information that reflects real-world biases and stereotypes, those sometimes show up in their outputs, and they can provide inaccurate, misleading, or false information while presenting it confidently.”
It’s understandable that Google may have released Bard before it was entirely polished, given the speed at which the product was developed. Many have speculated that the rapid development of Bard was in response to the success of ChatGPT, the chatbot produced by Elon Musk’s OpenAI lab, which gained popularity almost overnight after its launch in November 2022.