Google has announced ‘Bard’, its latest artificial intelligence (AI) feature that it hopes will help it remain the dominant search engine on the internet.
The new software will be built into its search function, helping it compete with the new Microsoft-backed ChatGPT.
Here’s what you need to know about the new product.
What is Google Bard?
Announced this week, Google Bard is the company’s AI search assistant. It will work in the background of search queries to generate a short text summary of your results, rather than simply an index of links.
“As people turn to Google for deeper insights and understanding, AI can help us get to the heart of what they're looking for,” Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai said on Tuesday.
“We’re starting with AI-powered features in Search that distil complex info into easy-to-digest formats so you can see the big picture then explore more.”
How does Google Bard work?
Google Bard works by scanning the internet and “learning” associate words, phrases and ideas. Once the software is fully “trained” by AI scientists, it is deployed for testing.
Screenshots shared by Google show how it will work in practice: users can type full sentences, or questions, into the search engine and get sentences in response.
When you type in a question such as “what new discoveries from the James Webb Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about”, the search engine will generate a simple text summary of the most recent news from the space telescope.
What powers Google Bard?
The software is based on Google’s pre-existing product LaMDA, which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications. It’s the Google name for chatbot software.
LaMDA is a type of Large Language Model (LLM). LLMs are software algorithms trained on huge amounts of data, usually measured in terabytes.
Although they are most well known as the software that powers chatbots, LLMs can also be used to do things such as scanning scientific databases to learn about the structure of medicines.
Once trained on how the molecules of existing medicines fit together, an LLM might be used to suggest new molecule structures for use in future medicines based on what it knows about existing patterns.
When will Bard launch?
Google has said that Bard will be made available to a select group of testers over the coming weeks.
“Next month, we’ll start onboarding individual developers, creators and enterprises so they can try our Generative Language API, initially powered by LaMDA with a range of models to follow,” said the company.
Are Google Bard and ChatGPT rivals?
Bard is seen as a rival to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT technology, which lets a computer hold a conversation with a human.
Google announced it shortly after Microsoft announced a $10bn investment into OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. The PC maker plans to integrate ChatGPT into its own search engine, Bing.
So far Google has not said that Bard will have chatbot-style features, or do more than provide a text summary of search results.
“A tool like ChatGPT can create search engines that give a structured answer to questions instead of simply a list of documents like Google does at the moment,” Thierry Poibeau, of French research institute CNRS, told Reuters.