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What You Should Know About Google’s Upgraded Bard Chatbot



Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

Google's annual I/O 2023 developer conference was abuzz with significant announcements revolving around artificial intelligence. The tech giant unveiled a multitude of AI enhancements for Google apps and services, with a notable spotlight on their large language model (LLM), PaLM 2, and the upgraded Bard, Google's experimental conversational chatbot. As we delve into the advanced capabilities of Google's AI chatbot, it's crucial to retrace Bard's journey and understand its underpinnings.

Google Keynote (Google I/O ‘23)

The Evolution of Google Bard

Debuted in February, Bard marked Google's innovative foray into AI-based conversational chatbots, akin to OpenAI’s renowned ChatGPT. Bard was initially equipped with a scaled-down version of Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications, LaMDA. This AI chatbot was designed to interact with users in a human-like manner, engaging in conversation, generating ideas, writing essays and codes, and even tackling math problems.

However, the initial version of Bard received criticism for its limited capabilities and factual inaccuracies. Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, acknowledged these limitations, revealing that they were intentional and part of the plan to progressively enhance Bard's capabilities with more potent LLMs.

Fast forward to Google I/O 2023, Google delivered on its promise by upgrading Bard with the latest version of the Parallel Language Model, PaLM 2. This move marks a significant leap from LaMDA, amplifying Bard's capabilities.

Initially, Bard was accessible exclusively to a select group of trusted testers in the US and the UK. Although the waitlist opened in March 2023, Bard remained inaccessible to the general public. However, Google has now broadened Bard's availability to over 180 countries and territories. While currently available only in English, Google plans to extend Bard's language support to Japanese and Korean, followed by an additional 40 languages in the future.

Exploring Bard's Enhanced Capabilities

With the integration of PaLM 2, Bard's functionality has experienced considerable improvements. The chatbot now boasts superior math, logic, and reasoning skills. It's capable of generating, explaining, and debugging code in over 20 programming languages, aiding developers in their programming endeavors.

Bard's latest version also brings forth a more visual and interactive user experience. Users can now provide image inputs to Bard, who can then respond with relevant information, leveraging Google tools like Google Lens. Moreover, Bard can generate humorous captions, further enhancing user engagement.

Not only can Bard's responses be directly exported to Gmail and Google Docs, but the chatbot also has the ability to browse the web for images, tap into knowledge graphs for relevant information, and utilize Google Maps for location-related queries. The integration with Google Sheets further augments its utility.

In a bid to expand its collaborative functionalities, Google plans to integrate Bard with external services such as Adobe Firefly. This integration will allow users to generate new images from text prompts and bring them to the editing table. Google is also establishing connections between Bard and other partners like Kayak, OpenTable, ZipRecruiter, Instacart, Wolfram, and Khan Academy.

Bard vs ChatGPT: The New AI Rivalry

With the announcement of the upgraded Bard chatbot, Google is posed to challenge the dominance of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. One of Google’s strategic moves was the introduction of a lightweight version called “Gecko,” designed for smartphone integration, enabling users to run it locally on their Android devices. Besides Gecko, there are other more potent versions, including Otter, Bison, and Unicorn.

In a head-to-head comparison between Bard and ChatGPT, both AI chatbots display impressive capabilities. However, certain distinguishing factors could tip the scales in Bard's favor. When it came to translating complex phrases, Bard provides more context, enhancing the comprehensibility of the translations.

Bard also outperforms ChatGPT in the realm of coding. With its support for over 20 programming languages, Bard can assist professionals with code generation, explanation, and debugging, and it does so with a faster response time compared to ChatGPT.

Another advantage Bard holds over ChatGPT is its connectivity to the internet. For example, when asked about the differences between OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s PaLM2, Bard can provide an up-to-date response, while ChatGPT is limited to information from before 2021.

Despite these advantages, Bard has a few limitations. One notable drawback is the lack of source backing for the information it provides, which can potentially lead to the spread of false information. Additionally, unlike ChatGPT, Bard doesn't allow access to previous interactions.

As Google continues to refine and expand Bard's capabilities, it becomes increasingly clear that Bard is set to become a major competitor to OpenAI's ChatGPT. The advancements in AI chatbots, as exemplified by Google's Bard, are a testament to the vast potential of AI in enhancing user experience and interaction.

The Future of Chatbots

ChatGPT, with its early mover advantage, has become a household name in tech and has a dedicated user base accustomed to its functionalities. However, with Bard being offered for free compared to the GPT4-powered version of ChatGPT priced at $20 a month, Google's chatbot has a competitive edge.

Both OpenAI and Google are working on enhancing their chatbots, with plans to make them multimodal and compatible with plugins. As the AI chatbot industry evolves, tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Meta are in a heated race to provide the most innovative and powerful offerings.

Although OpenAI’s ChatGPT had a head start with its launch in September 2022, Google is rapidly closing the gap. With its strategic improvements and expansive global reach, Bard is emerging as a significant threat to the dominance of ChatGPT.

Alex McFarland is an AI journalist and writer exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has collaborated with numerous AI startups and publications worldwide.