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Google launches Bard to lukewarm reception as tech titans grasp for AI dominance

By Matt Redley
29 March 2023
Technology, Media & Telecomms

It’s been another busy fortnight in the world of generative artificial intelligence (AI) with a flurry of announcements as key tech players race to grab their seat at the head of the internet’s table, which many believe will have AI firmly at its core. Google released its generative AI chatbot, Bard, rivalling Open AI’s Chat GPT, Chinese web giant Baidu also launched ERNIE, a Chinese language chatbot positioned as a Chinese language alternative to ChatGPT, to muted fanfare, and OpenAI released Chat GPT-4. Phew.

If you’re in need of a refresher on this technology, and what this means for you and I, you’re in luck.  

Generative AI describes algorithms that can be used to generate content, such as text, imagery, audio and computer code from written questions. And whilst many have used generative AI tools to write poems and haikus, it’s becoming ever clearer that the tools will have huge consequences across multiple spheres of life, such as the world of work, as well as raising important social and ethical considerations.  

In November 2022, the conversation surrounding the possibilities of AI was electrified by OpenAI, a research lab with significant funding from Microsoft, that released ChatGPT, a generative AI tool that is extraordinarily good at generating human-like responses to written questions and prompts. Commentators noted that Google was blindsided by the announcement, inciting them to bring back their retired founders after pressing the alarm bell on the risk that this technology posed to Google’s dominance.

After a botched promotion of its own chatbot that saw Google wipe $100m off their stock price by releasing a video in which the chatbot answered a question incorrectly, Google sought to regroup ahead of the launch of its Chatbot, Bard.

Fast forwarding to the present day, where are we now?

Bard was released this week to muted fanfare, as it sought to play catch up with ChatGPT. Released to those on a waiting list initially, the tool will run separately from its Google Search engine, and will only generate code in English, rather than computer code or other languages.

Reviews of Bard have so far been mixed, with commentators noting that it answers questions faster than Bing and ChatGPT, but that the results are hit and miss. Commentators note that the chatbot is less adept at producing factual information, and that it ‘lacks a sense of humour’, as well as being cautious in its answers, with overall feedback being Google has sought to play it safe.

If this wasn’t enough, on the 16th March, tech giant Baidu showcased its new Chinese-language generative AI large language model, ERNIE, the first Chinese contender in the Chatbot space. The launch was deemed underwhelming by commentators and seen as ‘rushed’.

These recent competitor launches have, so far, confirmed that Open AI’s Chat GPT tool remains the clear front-runner in the world of Generative AI.