Google’s rush to release an AI chatbot

Once a frontrunner in all things AI, Google got leapfrogged by OpenAI in recent years.

Seeing the growing popularity of ChatGPT, which launched in November, Google internally declared launching its own chatbot a “code red” project. The fact that the Satya Nadella-led firm pumped in billions more into OpenAI in the past year only built more pressure on Sundar Pichai’s teams.

“As a result of ChatGPT, the LaMDA team has been asked to prioritize working on a response to ChatGPT,” one internal memo viewed by CNBC last month said. “In the short term, it takes precedence over other projects,” the email continued, warning that some employees stop attending certain unrelated meetings.

Errors like the one in the Bard ad are far from uncommon and plague several similar models. But it wasn’t a good look that it went unchecked. In the mad rush to get ahead, Google can’t ignore Bard’s shortcomings.

Quotable: What Google has to say about the Bard blunder

“This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program. We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.” Google spokesperson

An AI “dance of giants” is underway

ChatGPT has reached 100 million users as of Feb. 1. ChatGPT had to earn those users and it did so rapidly. While impressive, Google has a way to scale and breach 1 billion users with far less effort. Its search already crossed the 1 billion mark years ago. “Unlike ChatGPT, Google doesn’t need to gain users. It just needs to roll out to its existing search box,” Jim Fan, an AI research scientist at Nvidia, tweeted.

Either way, if and when Bard is fully rolled out, together with ChatGPT, over 1.1 billion users will be able to access these experimental chatbots, making it, in Fan’s words, “a dance of giants.”

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