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Google announces ChatGPT rival ‘Bard’ with botched ad

In a few short weeks, Google will be rolling out its AI powered chatbot ‘Bard’ and it has everything to do with OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Another has entered the field of battle… and already faltered.

Last month, we wrote a story about ChatGPT and questioned whether a coming premium tier of its chatbot would spark an industry-wide scramble for commercial AI.

Not to toot our own horn, but we were bang on the money with the prediction that it would (and in a big way).

The reported crunch meeting between Google big wigs Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Sundar Pichai appears to have borne fruit, as the tech giant has just announced the imminent rollout of its own AI chatbot, ‘Bard’.

We’d known for some time that Google had been working on up to 20 AI projects, but opted to delay certain releases due to quality checks.

It appears this meticulous attitude may have been scrapped, however, with ChatGPT Professional stealing its thunder and forcing its hand.

Weeks after a reported ‘code red’ at Alphabet, Bard has conveniently arrived on the commercial market. But what makes Google’s AI chatbot special in this emerging space?

Google’s main concern about OpenAI’s ChatGPT, is that its new integration into Microsoft’s search engine Bing will drive engagement and ad revenue away from Google Search. Less than 24 hours after the Bing/OpenAI merger, Google has thrown down the gauntlet.

While novel uses of chatbots are equally fun and convenient, such as drafting emails, generating marketing copy, or writing entire articles, it’s the technology’s ability to concisely answer difficult questions that Pichai is concerned with.

The Alphabet chief says that people are searching for more nuanced answers than before on Google.

He uses the example that while once people may have asked about how many keys a piano has, they’re now more likely to ask whether it is more difficult to learn than the guitar – which doesn’t offer an immediate factual answer.

Instead of being referred to existing digital content such as blog posts and traditional article links, he claims that ‘AI can be helpful in these moments by synthesising insights for questions where there is no right answer’. This, he sees as the future of Google Search.

‘Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web,’ he explains.

It’s unclear whether the primary endgame for Microsoft was to use ChatGPT to refine internet searches in this way, but Google certainly wasn’t willing to sit around and find out.

It may have been a good idea to put the breaks on an initial showcase, however, as the early demo featured a grave error which has shareholders and investors feeling cynical about Bard.

In a promotion for the tech posted on Twitter, the bot responded to a question with incorrect information.

It suggested that the James Webb Telescope was the first to take pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system, when that milestone was achieved by the European Very Large Telescope in 2004 – the mistake was instantly noted by astronomers on the platform.

In the following 24 hours, Alphabet’s value sank by more than 7.7% knocking a cool $100bn off the firm’s market value. Hindsight is a fine thing, eh?

Investors are undoubtedly keen to capitalise on the growing fanfare for AI, but one misstep at such a tentative stage can clearly be grave.

One could argue that Google had to show its hand, given the Bing and ChatGPT merger had gone unchallenged, but the company’s initial fears about cutting product testing short have been punished, and in the most brutal fashion.

We’ll see if Google can recover in the coming weeks and months. But, as it stands, ChatGPT is still far and away the best AI chatbot on the web.