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In November 2022, ChatGPT was first launched by Open AI. Google (and everyone else) has been catching up ever since.
Google, with its own conversational AI tool, Bard, is now done catching up and looking to go far beyond ChatGPT’s capabilities. Multiple updates and innovations were announced at today’s Google I/O conference to drive Bard’s continued evolution now and in the months to come.
First announced in February, Bard struggled to gain traction early on for a host of reasons, not least the fact that – unlike ChatGPT, which is free and widely available – Bard had a waiting list with limited availability. Google is now removing the waiting list and opening Bard up to a global audience.
Google also announced a series of innovations designed to surpass ChatGPT, including multilingual support, visual responses, the ability to export, and new integrations.
“Large language models are capturing the world’s imagination and changing the way we think about the future of computing,” said Sissie Hsiao, VP and GM of Google Assistant and Bard at a Google I/O keynote. “We launched Bard as a limited-access experiment on a lightweight large language model to get feedback and iterate. And since then, the team has worked hard to make rapid improvements and launch them quickly.”
Shakespeare isn’t the force behind the bard – it’s PaLM 2
The term ‘bard’ is a word used to describe a storyteller and is a nickname also commonly associated with the famous English playwright William Shakespeare.
Bard’s words were not written by Shakespeare or any other human being (at least not directly), but rather were generated from Google’s latest large language model (LLM) PaLM 2, which was also announced at the Google I/O event of Today.
PaLM 2 provides Bard with significantly enhanced generative AI capabilities that exceed the initial functionality Bard launched earlier this year.
“With PaLM 2, Bard’s math, logic, and reasoning skills took a quantum leap, supporting the ability to help developers with programming,” said Hsiao. “Bard can now collaborate on tasks such as code generation, debugging and explaining code snippets.”
With code generation, Bard is also taking it a step further in its effort to surpass OpenAI’s capabilities. Hsiao said that starting next week, Bard will integrate accurate code citations to help developers understand exactly where code snippets come from.
What good is a bard if you can’t share his work?
Another limitation of the original Bard was that comments and generated content remained in Bard, but that’s about to change too.
Hsiao announced that starting today, Bard is adding exports for Gmail and Google Docs, making it easy to integrate generated content. She took it a step further and announced that Bard is getting more extensibility with the launch of tools and extensions.
“As you work with Bard, you can take advantage of Google services and partner extensions, so you can do things you couldn’t do before,” said Hsiao.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Bard will become much more vocal
To date, both ChatGPT and Bard are text-based tools that provide text-based responses. That’s another area where Google wants to outshine its rival.
In the coming weeks, Google will update Bard to provide images as part of prompt responses.
“It’s amazing what Bard can do with text; but images are such a fundamental part of how we learn and express,” Hsiao said. “So in the coming weeks, Bard will become more visual, both in his answers and in your clues.”
In addition to what Bard itself can do directly with images, Hsiao said there will be an integration with Adobe Firefly to allow users to generate entirely new images directly within Bard.
Bard goes multilingual
English isn’t the only language Google’s users speak, and soon it won’t be the only language Bard supports.
The plan is for Bard to support 40 different languages, starting today with Japanese and Korean, with more to come in the coming months.
“It’s amazing to see the speed of progress so far with more advanced models. So many new possibilities and the opportunity for even more people to work with Bard,” said Hsiao.
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