The AI wars are heating up.
On Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced Bard, a search engine powered by AI that provides answers to queries in cohesive sentences. It is a competitor to ChatGPT — a generative AI tool and chatbot.
“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models,” Pichai wrote in the announcement.
The product will be available to the wider public in the “coming weeks” and until then will be used by “trusted testers.”
Then, in a press conference on Tuesday, Microsoft announced it had collaborated with OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, to integrate the technology into its Bing search engine, per Bloomberg.
Instead of a traditional search engine experience (searching for a query and being presented with a plethora of links), things like ChatGPT allow you to ask something like, “What is the planet Venus like?” and receive a concise, coherent response.
This could make search obsolete, as at least one expert has predicted, and presents existential problems for both companies, both of which have search engines, Google and Microsoft’s Bing.
Google was reportedly spooked by the public furor around the generative AI tool ChatGPT, and it spurred Microsoft into action, investing a reported $10 billion into OpenAI.
Generative AI means that you could ask the robot, and in this case, ChatGPT, and generate cohesive answers, from essays on Hamlet to a novel to passing a medical licensing exam (according to a preliminary study)— which sent academia into a panic.
Google developed Bard, which was previously known in-house as LaMDA but had not released it to the public. Pichai reportedly said at an internal meeting in December that the company had a bigger “reputational risk” and needed to comport itself “more conservatively than a small startup.”
But ChatGPT proved to be a gadfly of sorts. Internally, it was called a “code red” for the company, per The New York Times.
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Google’s Bard tool, which “draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses,” does things like explaining new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope NASA telescope to a 9-year-old or listing the top soccer players in a certain position, the company wrote in the blog post.
Microsoft’s tool is presently available in preview mode with limited question options — and a waitlist for the full version, per Bloomberg. In the preview version, you can do things like ask it to help plan a menu or write a rhyming poem.
The company is planning integrations with its Bing search engine as well as its Edge browser, the outlet noted.
“This technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” said Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, at the press conference, per Bloomberg.