Did Google’s Bard AI tool just commit its first error in a demo?

February 8, 2023

Google is now moving to compete with Microsoft-backed ChatGPT technology. This week, Google introduced its “experimental conversational AI service” called Bard, which is powered by Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). The company said Bard would offer users “fresh” responses by sourcing information from the web. Despite this, the tool seemed to have already committed its first error by providing inaccurate details, as seen in the demo clip shared by Google itself.

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai shared the news about Bard on Monday and said that the company would first release it to a limited number of trusted testers before giving the public access to the tech in the coming weeks.

“We’re releasing it initially with our lightweight model version of LaMDA,” said Pichai. “This much smaller model requires significantly less computing power, enabling us to scale to more users, allowing for more feedback. We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information. We’re excited for this phase of testing to help us continue to learn and improve Bard’s quality and speed.”

Just like Microsoft’s move to include ChatGPT in Bing, Google intends to integrate the technology into its Google Search engine, which will also deliver new search desktop designs. 

“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: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner,” said Pichai. “These new AI features will begin rolling out on Google Search soon.”

The entrance of Bard will introduce a feature called the “Apprentice Bard,” a chatbot that will allow conversational interactions between a user and the tech through topic-related questions. Additionally, Pichai noted that Bard would use Google’s language models and current information from the web, allowing up-to-date information.

“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models,” explained Pichai.” It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses.”

Currently, this characteristic is the weakness of the actual ChatGPT chatbot. Its ability to provide information is limited since its training is only up to 2021 data. Nonetheless, ChatGPT’s integration into Bing now allows the tech to provide more recent information and cite the sources. That said, while Bard and ChatGPT’s battle in search engine content could be considered equal, it’s different for the two tech’s chatbot performances.

There are still no clear confirmations of the exact capabilities of Bard, but Pichai’s announcement indicates the company’s dedication to making it as flawless as possible. AI chatbot techs are known for producing inevitable errors and unpleasant responses, and Bard has already shown it, as pointed out by a Twitter user named Isabel Angelo. In one of the Bard demo previews in Pichai’s blog post, Bard provides details about “new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.” Angelo, however, pointed out that the tool included an error in its content.

“Unfortunately a simple Google Search would tell us that JWST actually did not ‘take the very first picture of a planet outside of our own Solar System’ and this is literally in the ad for Bard so I wouldn’t trust it yet,” said Angelo, an astrophysics Ph.D. student.

Some believed that the mistake happened as Google tried to outrun Microsoft, which recently uncovered its new Bing engine powered by ChatGPT. And while the Microsoft-backed tech is also far from perfect, some pointed out how rushing things negatively affected Bard’s image.

“Rushed feature is rushed,” commented one user on the thread. “Google is feeling the pressure. Unlike them to not vet things they publicize better than this.”

“That’s so funny, they must have rushed the hell out of the video release to beat Microsoft,” said another user.

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