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Bard, the long-awaited Google alternative to ChatGPT is finally available

Google’s answer to ChatGPT and the new Bing chat is now available in preview for select users

Google is officially entering the AI-powered chat war against ChatGPT with the introduction of Bard, its own take on the concept. Starting today, users in the United States and the United Kingdom can sign up for a preview of Bard and ask for help or information on a given topic. In return, Bard can generate structured responses that help users get the information they need more quickly.

In addition to searching for information, you can ask Bard to create a list of items you need for a trip, for example, or ask it to give you ideas on you can read 20 books in a year. Google doesn’t see Bard as a replacement for the standard Search experience, either. The company says this is more of a complement to Search, and from within Bard, you can click the Google It button to see the search results and dive into more details on the topic.

In many ways, this is similar to Bing’s chat experience, which is powered by GPT-4, a large language model developed by OpenAI that analyzes and interprets natural human language, and outputs results in a human-sounding and confident way. However, unlike Bing, Bard is the large language model itself, so it’s simultaneously competing with Bing and OpenAI.

Another difference from Bing, at least based on how it was initially introduced, is that Google is being clear in regard to the limitation is a large language model like Bard. The company openly states that Bard is trained on language used by a wide range of people, and it can sometimes inherit certain biases and stereotypes from the sources it learns from. It can also sometimes find and display inaccurate or wrong information, and it can do it while sounding confident. It all goes to say that you’ll still need to double-check the information given to you by Bard, but the model is continuously learning and improving its responses. Google will also be relying on feedback from experts to improve the reliability of Bard’s answers over time.

Right from the start, Google is also learning from some of Microsoft’s initial mistakes with the Bing preview. For example, Bard will limit the number of exchanges you can have with it during a single interaction, something that Bing chat didn’t initially do, often resulting in rampancy and absurd interactions until Microsoft put some restrictions in place. Google says it’s building Bard while being guided by its AI principles to ensure that it’s built responsibly and with user safety in mind.

If you’re in the US or the UK and you want to give Bard a try, you can sign up for the preview here. Availability in more languages is planned, though a timeframe wasn’t given.

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