Google has launched an early version of its Bard chatbot to the public in an effort to get people using the service so it can improve upon it.
The popularity of ChatGPT has skyrocketed in recent months, leading Microsoft – which invested around $10bn in the app’s developers, OpenAI, in January this year – to incorporate the technology into a new version of its search engine, Bing.
Announcing the public release of its competing app in a blog post, Google VPs Sissie Hsiao and Eli Collins said the Bard chatbot can be used to “boost your productivity, accelerate your ideas and fuel your curiosity”.
US and UK consumers can now join a waiting list for English-language access to Bard, a program that was previously open to approved testers only.
At its inaugural public unveiling last month, the chatbot faced heavy criticism after it was shown to provide inaccurate information in various promotional materials, causing the price of Google stock to plummet.
Bard is powered by a research large language model (LLM); specifically, a lightweight and optimised version of LaMDA, a conversational tool first introduced by Google in 2021. Bard will be updated with newer, more capable models over time that will be further enhanced through interactions with users.
Nevertheless, Google admits that such models are not without their faults as they learn from a wide range of information that reflects real-world biases and stereotypes that sometimes show up in their outputs. Through this, they can be prone to providing inaccurate, misleading or false information while presenting it confidently.
“Although it’s important to be aware of challenges like these, there are still incredible benefits to LLMs, like jumpstarting human productivity, creativity and curiosity,” the post states.
“And so, when using Bard, you’ll often get the choice of a few different drafts of its response so you can pick the best starting point for you. You can continue to collaborate with Bard from there, asking follow-up questions. And if you want to see an alternative, you can always have Bard try again.”
Google described the new service as a “complementary” experience to its traditional search engine and it has been designed so that users can easily check search to see where its responses are coming from.
Bard will also come with built-in “guardrails”, such as capping the number of exchanges in a dialogue, to try to keep interactions helpful and on topic.