Google is throwing its hat firmly into the conversational AI ring with a small-scale launch of its conversational AI service.
Named Bard, the service is looking to take on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which has exploded in popularity since its launch in November 2022.
Bard will be powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), which the tech giant unveiled two years ago. The announcement of the service yesterday includes the opening of Bard to “trusted testers”, with a bid to make it more widely available to the public in the coming weeks, said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a blog post.
“Knowledge with power” – of language models
Bard is positioned as a conversational AI tool that will “combine the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models”, Pichai said. The service will be able to draw on information from the open web.
He added: “Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new 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.”
The initial launch is with a lightweight model version of LaMDA, which requires less computing power so Google can scale and get more feedback from users, which will be combined with internal testing.
Conversational AI unleashed
Since the introduction of ChatGPT last November, owner OpenAI has seen traffic skyrocket by more than 3,500%, according to figures from digital-adoption.com. The launch of the conversational AI bot has powered 672 million visits in the past two months, up from 18.3 million, with ChatGPT driving 92% of OpenAI’s traffic.
OpenAI, whose co-founders include current CEO Sam Altman, Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman and Elon Musk, runs a suite of products including GPT-3, a language model and DALL-E, an AI image generator.
According to digital-adoption.com’s research, investment firm UBS reported ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users this January.
The success of ChatGPT has already prompted the launch of a subscription version – ChatGPT Plus, announced by OpenAI last week.
The pilot plan will be available to invited US customers at a fee of $20 a month from OpenAI’ss waitlist, with benefits including general access to the bot, even at peak times, faster response and priority access to new features, but OpenAI is planning to expand the service globally, while still pledging to offer free access.
The AI race is firmly on – with the announcement of Bard coming a day before Microsoft holding a press event today (7 February), where speculation is heavily mounted that among its tech announcements will be the integration of ChatGPT into the tech giant’s search engine Bing.
Speculation is also growing around ChatGPT – and other conversational tools – and their capabilities for service operations, alongside knowledge and discovery.