Google is upgrading up its Bard artificial intelligence chatbot, making it more widely available and giving it a variety of new capabilities.
In March, Google started letting users in the U.S. and the U.K. test Bard, a rival to ChatGPT, the viral chatbot that Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI released in November. Now Google is opening access to the broader public, releasing it in over 180 countries and territories.
Last week, Microsoft scrapped the waiting list for its revamped Bing search engine, featuring a chatbot powered in part by OpenAI’s GPT-4 large language model, which is at the heart of ChatGPT.
Google has moved Bard to the new PaLM 2 large language model to provide smarter answers to user questions. Models like PaLM 2 and GPT-4 are trained on reams of text data and can come up with human-like responses to questions and commands.
Bard will be able to respond to queries in English, Japanese and Korean, and Google will expand availability to the top 40 languages soon, Jack Krawczyk, Bard product lead at Google, said during a media briefing with reporters earlier this week.
Google is taking its time in opening up access to Bard because of a commitment to AI responsibility and alignment, and awareness of the limitations of the large language models that power chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT, Krawczyk said.
Bard will soon include images in responses, and in the next few months Google will make it easier to prompt the chatbot with images through the Google Lens tool, Krawczyk said. For example, a person can point a smartphone at a drawer full of arts and crafts supplies and ask what can be made with them.
Over time, Krawczyk said, Bard will be able to bring information from Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Gmail into conversations. Bard will also be able to show responses with help from third-party tools such as Adobe’s
Firefly generative AI service, he said, which can create images inspired by people’s text descriptions.
Other new Bard features include a dark theme designed to make it easier on the eyes, and the ability for people to export responses to Gmail, Google Docs, Google’s Colab interactive coding tool and third-party collaborative programming app Replit.
Google’s first big feature announcement could make it much easier to write emails — or it could fill your inbox with low-quality computer generated messages.
Google will integrate generative AI into Gmail to help expand emails quickly, called “Help Me Write.” Google’s example was filling out a letter to get a full refund from an airline. Google has settings to make the generated text longer or shorter, and it uses context from previous messages to help write the copy.
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