Google’s ChatGPT rival “Bard” now available for early access in the US and UK

1 min read
Google's ChatGPT rival "Bard" now available for early access in the US and UK
(Image Credit: Google)

Google takes a significant step towards the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) with the release of its new chatbot, Bard, which aims to compete with existing AI chatbots such as ChatGPT and Bing. Google has opened up limited access to the AI-powered chatbot, which will be initially available to select users in the US and UK, with users able to join a waitlist at bard.google.com. However, the roll-out will be slow, and Google has not offered a date for full public access.

Unlike its search engine, Google is promoting Bard as a “complement to search,” which allows users to bounce ideas off of, generate writing drafts, or just chat about life with. Bard offers users a blank text box and an invitation to ask questions about any topic they like. However, Google is stressing that users should not treat Bard as a replacement for the search engine, given the well-documented tendency of chatbots to invent information.

In a demo, Bard was able to quickly and fluidly answer a number of general queries, offering anodyne advice on how to encourage a child to take up bowling and recommending a list of popular heist movies. Bard generates three responses to each user query, although the variation in their content is minimal, and underneath each reply is a prominent “Google It” button that redirects users to a related Google search.

Related: Pixel superfans first in line for Google’s Bard AI assistant

Google has described Bard as “an early experiment,” intended to help people boost their productivity, accelerate their ideas, and fuel their curiosity. Although the chatbot is connected to Google’s search results, trying to extract factual information from Bard is hit-and-miss. For example, it was unable to correctly answer a tricky question about the maximum load capacity of the specific washing machine, inventing three different but incorrect answers.

In comparison to its main rivals, ChatGPT and Bing, Bard appears to be faster than either, although this may be because it currently has fewer users. However, it lacks Bing’s clearly labeled footnotes, which Google says only appear when it directly quotes a source like a news article and seemed generally more constrained in its answers.

Google is aware of the risks of AI chatbots, given the potential for them to generate responses that are harmful or dangerous. However, the company is keen to expose Bard’s capabilities to the public, while at the same time being mindful of the limitations of the technology. As more users gain access to Bard, the collective stress test will reveal the system’s capabilities and liabilities.