Google has launched a conversational AI model, Bard, for what looks like closed beta testing. A direct response to Open AI's Internet sensation, ChatGPT.
Unless you've been under a rock, you must have heard about chatGPT, a chatbot that gives life-like answers to your questions. It can write articles, poems, and do some basic coding. Its popularity has led many to question how this will impact Google, whose "Search" product has become synonymous with the Internet.
In a document shared with Techpoint Africa, Google states that Bard will draw on the power and creativity of its large language models and will draw information from the Internet to provide fresh and high-quality insights.
The development of Bard has been a long time coming. At Google I/O 2021, the company unveiled the conversational capabilities of an AI powered by the Language Model for Dialogue Applications (or LaMDA).
Following the closed testing from users, the company says it will be opening it up to the public in the coming weeks.
"Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills," says Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, in a statement shared with Techpoint Africa.
Integration with Google search
Google says it will integrate Bard's capabilities into its search engine soon. Though Pichai doesn't provide a specific timeline for the integration, it's conceivable that this will happen very close to the public launch.
"Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distil 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." the CEO says.
However, Microsoft, an early investor in OpenAI, has already announced that it will integrate ChatGPT into its Bing search service to battle Google for a larger pie of the search engine market. Microsoft seemingly has a head start with ChatGPT, so the next few weeks should be an interesting spectacle.
Internet access and server uptime
Since OpenAI's launch of ChatGPT, the company has witnessed crazy amounts of usage that have led to several instances of outages. At a reported 100 million users, that's quite understandable.
However, Google already seems to have an answer. Pichai states that Bard will be running on a smaller and lightweight version of LaMDA that would be easier to scale to millions of users and get more feedback.
"We’ll combine external feedback with our internal testing to ensure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety, and groundedness in real-world information. We’re excited about this phase of testing to help us continue to learn and improve Bard’s quality and speed."
OpenAI has supposedly not allowed ChatGPT access to the Internet yet, but Google has confirmed that its conversational chatbot will be able to access the Internet to get up-to-date information.
There are, however, ethical considerations to take note of, and it will be interesting to see how Google handles dicey situations of content ownership.
It's also not clear if Bard will be as powerful as ChatGPT in terms of the breadth and depth of responses that individuals can make out of it.
Google's CEO also added that from March 2023, Google would start onboarding individual developers, creators, and enterprises to build innovative applications with its Generative language API. It will be initially powered by LaMDA, and it will add other models too.
Our best guess will be other of Google's models, like PaLM (Utility AI), Imagen (Image generation), and MusicLM (Music generation), will soon be available for developers. More about them tomorrow.
While individuals can do awesome stuff with generative AI models like ChatGPT and soon, Bard, innovative entrepreneurs and startups can do much more. Companies use ChatGPT's Application Programming Interface (API) to develop AI for highly specialised tasks in different industries.
For instance, while ChatGPT writes code, Github's copilot presents a more tailored and reliable option. While chatGPT stutters when writing long texts, Wordhero can write 3000-word articles without flinching. You get the idea, right? If this makes you scared for your career, calm down and read this.
"Having the necessary compute power to build reliable and trustworthy AI systems is also crucial to startups, and we are excited to help scale these efforts through our Google Cloud partnerships with Cohere, C3.ai and Anthropic, which was just announced last week. Stay tuned for more developer details soon."
The big picture for Google
Again, Google's Bard seems to be a direct response to ChatGPT. The company has long been known for innovative AI solutions that are tailored to diverse kinds of experiences. The distinctive features of the Pixel phones, for instance, are powered by AI. It brings this cutting-edge AI to its other products like Search, Adsense, and YouTube.
Moreso, Google's ad revenue, its cash cow, declined by 3.6% as it missed earnings expectations in 2022. When you add these to the meteoric rise of ChatGPT, you can understand the pressure Google has been facing to provide an answer.
It's possible that a superpowered search engine could bring back advertiser confidence, but I'm betting that this is another play for Google cloud, its fast-growing segment. While search, youtube ads, and google ads all declined in 2022, Google's cloud service grew by 32%.
Generative AI is becoming a big deal globally, but there's not much to the conversation that's ongoing in Africa. But all signs show that things could be changing. Companies like South Africa's Foondamate use AI to help students study for important exams to great results.
With so many more problems to solve, I'm making another bet that more African startups will start using Google's API to build solutions with Google cloud. Why, the company has been getting knee-deep in Africa's startup space with accelerators, founders' funds, and a subsea cable.
I still assert that Google's endgame in Africa lies in its cloud business.Featured image: brianjmatis Flickr via Compfight cc