Google adds coding capabilities to Bard

Company says its AI tool still in early experimental phase and may sometimes provide inaccurate or misleading information

Google's Bard focuses on creating new ways to engage with information. Reuters
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Google said its new generative artificial intelligence tool Bard can now help users write code to develop software, as the company wrestles Microsoft-backed Bing and ChatGPT for a greater share of the generative AI market.

With its new capabilities, Bard will help users with programming and software development tasks, including code generation, debugging and code explanation, the company said on Friday.

Since Bard’s launch in February, coding has been one of the top requests Google has received from its users.

“We are launching these capabilities in more than 20 programming languages including C++, Go, Java, JavaScript, Python and Typescript,” said Paige Bailey, group product manager at Google research.

“And you can easily export Python code to Google Colab — no copy and paste required.”

Besides writing code, Bard can also explain code snippets to users.

“This is particularly helpful if you are learning about programming for the first time, or if you need some additional support to understand what a block of code might output,” Ms Bailey said.

Bard focuses on creating new ways to engage with information, from language and images to videos and audio. In March, Google opened limited public access to select consumers in the US and the UK.

However, Bard so far not gained the kind of traction seen by its rival, the hugely popular ChatGPT, which was launched last year.

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 this past year.

Google admits that Bard is still in an early experimental phase, and may sometimes provide inaccurate or misleading information while presenting it confidently.

“When it comes to coding, Bard may give you working code that doesn’t produce the expected output, or provide you with code that is not optimal or incomplete,” Ms Bailey said.

“Always double-check Bard’s responses and carefully test and review code for errors, bugs and vulnerabilities before relying on it.”

In February, Google's parent company Alphabet lost $100 billion in market value after Bard made a factual error in a promotional video.

Updated: April 21, 2023, 6:06 PM