Google, Microsoft Fire Next Shots in AI Chatbot Showdown

Google and Microsoft are both preparing to launch their latest salvos in a battle to take leadership in artificial intelligence, which has been gaining increasing amounts of attention from technology enthusiasts and a curious public alike.

Search giant Google announced a competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, called Bard, which uses its Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). In a blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote that the “experimental conversational AI service” is opening to “trusted testers” today and will expand to the wider public in “the coming weeks.”

“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models,” Pichai wrote. “It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses.” Its chief competitor, ChatGPT, doesn’t know much about the world after 2022.

(Image credit: Google)

Pichai didn’t list many of Bard’s features, though it has a short video of the AI listing discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope in a way that could be explained to a 9-year-old. The post also suggests Bard could compare Oscar-nominated movies, get lunch ideas based on what’s in your fridge or plan a baby shower.

Google also said that it will include its AI technologies in search, using them to summarize results and “distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats.”

Google is holding an event about AI on Wednesday.  But shortly after Google’s announcement, Microsoft struck back, announcing a press event at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters tomorrow, Feb. 7, to “share some progress on a few exciting projects,” Bloomberg reports. Several news outlets are theorizing that the event will focus on Microsoft’s “multi-billion dollar investment” with ChatGPT creator OpenAI. Recently, some users were shown early glimpses of what Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, may look like with ChatGPT built in.

OpenAI CEO posted a tweet containing a photo of him with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Redmond, saying that he is “excited for the event tomorrow”, adding some credibility to the theories.

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When ChatGPT became a sensation, Google reportedly went into a “code red” situation. Google has been working on AI quietly, and it’s possible that Google has had a version of Bard working in some form for awhile. 

In July 2022, a senior software engineer at Google suggested that he thought the AI was sentient. ChatGPT can often be wrong, and is just as often extremely confident in its errors. But its warm reception may have given Google space to move Bard to the public and start the AI race in earnest, ready or not.