Google to upgrade ChatGPT rival Bard soon, Sunder Pichai says

Last month, the company opened Bard's limited public access to select consumers in the US and the UK

Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai said the company wants to ensure Bard's capabilities are 'effective and frictionless'. Bloomberg
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Alphabet-owned Google is soon expected to launch an upgraded version of its generative artificial intelligence platform Bard, which aims to rival Microsoft-backed ChatGPT.

Launched in February, the new conversational AI service focuses on creating innovative ways to engage with information, from language and images to videos and audio. Last month, Google opened limited public access to select consumers in the US and the UK.

“We clearly have more capable models,” Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s chief executive, said in an interview on The New York Times’ Hard Fork podcast.

“Pretty soon, perhaps as this goes live, we will be upgrading Bard to some of our more capable PaLM models, which will bring more capabilities; be it in reasoning, coding, it can answer maths questions better. So, you will see progress over the course of next week.”

Google’s Pathways Language Model (PaLM) is seen as a major advancement in generative AI. It enables data scientists to efficiently train a single model across multiple systems that is capable of understanding hundreds of languages and generation tasks.

So far, Bard has not attracted many users compared to the instant popularity of ChatGPT that was launched last year, according to industry experts.

Mr Pichai said the company is cautious with rolling out the capabilities of Bard to ensure they are effective and frictionless.

“To me, it was important to not put [out] a more capable model before we can fully make sure we can handle it well,” Mr Pichai said.

The current model of Bard comes with various generative AI capabilities. For example, users can ask Bard to give them tips to reach their goal of reading more books this year, explain quantum physics in simple terms, write a customised job description, draft an invitation for a Halloween-themed birthday party or quickly write an outline for a blog post.

Generative AI uses machine learning to produce content such as text, images, video and audio. It can generate novel content, in the right context, instead of merely analysing or acting on the existing data.

Recent new breakthroughs in the field could drastically change the way we approach content creation, according to a report from McKinsey and Company.

The global generative AI market is expected to reach $188.62 billion by 2032, growing at an annual rate of more than 36 per cent, from $8.65 billion last year, data from The Brainy Insights market research company showed. The North American region dominated the market in last year.

Google said it is building Bard responsibly while keeping the human factor in the spotlight and is taking every step cautiously.

“It is so clear to me that these systems are going to be very, very capable, and so it almost doesn’t matter whether you have reached AGI [artificial general intelligence] or not,” Mr Pichai said.

“Can we have an AI system which can cause disinformation at scale? Yes. Is it AGI? It really doesn’t matter. Why do we need to worry about AI safety? Because you have to anticipate this and evolve to meet that moment.”

AGI is the representation of general human cognitive abilities in the form of a software. It will ensure the software will react like a human being when it is presented an unfamiliar task.

Updated: April 01, 2023, 3:00 AM