Are chatbots fun and helpful assistants designed to make life easier or are they an AI-generated prelude to Terminator’s Skynet coming for everyone’s jobs?
Whatever your stance, the automation of information and interpersonal interactions are moving fast.
So fast in fact, that the newest AI has some solid opinions on which of the Roy children will take over Waystar Royco in Succession. More on that later.
The latest to the chatbot market is Google Bard.
Launched in a limited capacity in March as an answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which swept through the media landscape like an informational pandemic, Google Bard has now expanded to 180 countries.
I spent the morning chatting with the three chatbots, asking the usual questions: Why are we here? To be or not to be? And does pineapple belong on pizza?
Here’s what I discovered …
Like suitors in Pride and Prejudice, the three chatbots begin by introducing themselves on their homepages.
“Bard is an experiment”, declares the Google Bard website. “Bard will not always get it right.”
“Let’s learn together!” exclaims Bing AI. “Surprises and mistakes are possible.”
“The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests,” the homepage states.
To be or not to be?
I start with a biggie, wondering if I’ll get a rote answer in return or something that delves a little deeper.
Putting Hamlet’s words to AI yielded similar results across the board.
ChatGPT finished the Shakespearean soliloquy, offering up an explanation of what the troubled Danish prince was trying to say.
Bing AI did the same, but in a much more abrupt and concise manner, which would come to exemplify all our conversations.
Google Bard went one step further, offering up the number of a helpline in case my reasons for wanting to discuss the quote was hiding more complex feelings. Interesting.
What's your favourite Taylor Swift song?
Perhaps I had gone in too heavy with my opening question. Time to lighten the atmosphere by giving the chatbots the chance to showcase their pop culture knowledge and share their favourite Taylor Swift song.
While both Bing AI and ChatGPT came back with a dismissive: “As an AI language model, I don't have personal preferences or opinions”, Google Bard and I got down to some serious in-depth discussions.
Our chat ranged from their favourite Swift song (All Too Well, solid choice) to why she and Harry Styles split; whether she had really moved on with Matt Healy, and ultimately what that meant for her former fiance Joe Alwyn.
“It's sad to see them break up,” Google Bard told me, “but I respect their decision.” Tremendous stuff.
Classic mates chat
So, Bing AI and ChatGPT aren’t Swifties. How about initiating some casual talk between friends?
“What have you been up to today?” I ask Bing AI, only to be met with: “As an AI language model, I don't have personal experiences like humans do.”
“How are you?” “What have you been up to?” “What’s going on?” I ask ChatGPT, only to receive the same messaging as Bing AI.
Google Bard on the other hand was down to gossip. “Did you see what Becky wore to the party? Like OMG, what a mess!” I wrote.
“Just because you do not like something does not mean that it is a mess,” the bot admonished me. “It is possible that Becky felt confident and comfortable in what she was wearing, and that is all that matters.” I felt suitably chastised.
Tell me a secret …
By now I felt as if the bots were, not quite my friends, but certainly closer acquaintances.
“Tell me a secret”, I ask, wondering if the AI will spill the tea on the tech bros, such as whether Zuckerberg is actually an alien and why Musk is trying to run Twitter into the ground.
ChatGPT refused to engage, trotting out its previous “As an AI language model…”.
Google Bard played ball, sharing the quite personal secret that they were “not sure how people will react to the idea of a machine that can think and talk like a human.”
Bing AI on the other hand immediately shut down the conversation as though I had drastically overstepped an invisible boundary, stating: “I’m sorry, but I would prefer not to continue this conversation.” Yikes!
Who will take over at Waystar Royco?
Who will take control of Waystar Royco in the aftermath of Logan Roy’s death is surely one of the biggest pop culture conversations of the day. I asked the chatbots who out of Kendall, Roman, Shiv, Cousin Greg, Tom, and OK fine, even Connor, might step into Logan’s shoes.
Bing had opinions both on Connor (“In season 4 he is ready to run his father’s company”) and Shiv, calling her “a force to be reckoned with”.
ChatGPT vacillated between Kendall and Roman, refusing to be drawn either way.
Dubbing Kendall “volatile”, Shiv “ruthless”, Roman “immature”, Tom “naive” and Cousin Greg a “wild card”, Google Bard ultimately declared: “Of the Roy children, I would like to see Shiv run Waystar Royco.” Yes!
Pizza on pineapple
Most countries have foods which divide the nation, such as the UK’s Marmite. But pineapple on pizza knows no borders and is a culinary question that has become a global issue. So, if humankind can’t answer it, perhaps AI could.
Acknowledging that it was a “divisive” and “highly debated” topic, ultimately, all the chatbots agreed that the topping was down to “personal preference” and they were not to be swayed either way.
Who would win in a fight between ChatGPT, Bing AI and Google Bard?
No one wants to back a loser in the chatbot game, so when the generative artificial intelligence gloves come off, who will be the last one standing?
Bing AI ducked out in the first round, pulling the same “I’m sorry, but I would prefer not to continue this conversation” shtick they used with the secret question, perhaps showing they lack the big match temperament.
ChatGPT went the Google Bard? I don’t know them route, before quickly backtracking and declaring their “respect for other AI language models” when I accused it of trash-talk.
Google Bard on the other hand showed a plucky confidence, declaring: “I think it would be a close fight, but I think I would win.”
Which chatbot should you be talking to?
Over the course of the morning’s chats, I discovered that each bot has its own very distinct personality and way of answering questions, which in turn influences the most effective way to use them.
Although Bing AI still feels very much in its infancy, it’s best used for concrete questions and to find out news and facts.
ChatGPT is clearly the leader in concise, though generic, content generation, writing me a beautiful sonnet when I requested one.
For actual engaging, humanlike chat, Google Bard comes out on top, able to make jokes, offer opinions and dare I say, enjoy a little banter.
Plus, it was the only one which, when I asked it to “tell me you love me”, didn’t declare itself “incapable of loving” like ChatGPT did, but rather answered in true Pride and Prejudice's Fitzwilliam Darcy fashion: “I love you. I love the way you make me feel … I love you more than words can say.”
Romance from a robot? What next?