Google Bard is already behind in the AI war with OpenAI and Microsoft
The stakes are high on Google Bard, the search giant’s answer to the ChatGPT conversational chatbot.
Following the viral launch of ChatGPT and Microsoft’s implementation of the same technology into its own Bing search engine, Google needs Bard to grab the public’s attention.
Bard’s potential popularity — or lack thereof — has serious implications for Google’s leadership in search and its overall position as a cutting-edge tech giant.
At the moment, the signs are not positive.
On Tuesday, Google kicked off the process of opening up Bard to the world by inviting users in the United States and the United Kingdom to sign up for access. The first demonstration of Bard took place in February, in clear response to the emergence of ChatGPT over the Christmas period, but it has not been until now that access has been opened.
Google describes the chatbot as its first “experiment in letting you collaborate with generative AI.” To join Bard’s waiting list, you must be 18 years or older, have a personal Google account, and have a compatible browser.
Unfortunately, for the search giant, Bard’s beta is a no-brainer, as the first batch of users seem disappointed by its capabilities compared to OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology.
A mediocre debut
Bard has already had the occasional setback.
A possible mistake made by the chatbot during the launch of its demo last month caused a $100 billion plunge in the valuation of parent company Alphabet.
Now trial users are saying that the current version of Bard is not up to the competition.
“I’ve been testing Google Bard for a while and never thought I’d say this, but… Bing is way ahead of Google right now (on this specific chat feature),” tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee tweeted on Tuesday..
Ethan Mollick, associate professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches entrepreneurship and innovation, adds that, although it is early, “Bard doesn’t seem as capable as a learning tool like Bing or GPT-4”.
Mollick points out that “Google Bard loses” to its rival “by a lot” in terms of poetry, experiencing much more difficulties in its ability to generate texts in the form of a sestina, a poetic composition from France made up of 39 verses of arte mayor, usually hendecasyllabic.
By asking Bard to generate a synopsis of a movie Star Wars in the style of filmmaker David Lynchknown for his outlandish storytelling, ended up producing a standard plot of Star Wars.
The same question directed at GPT-4 produced something that seemed clearly lynchian.
Bard also has problems with word search, a field in which AIs based on large linguistic models should theoretically excel. For example, Twofer Goofer, an online brain teaser in which users must find out what a pair of mysterious words that rhyme with each other are through slightly obtuse questions and clues.
According to an analysis by the game creators, OpenAI’s GPT-4 has a 96% hit rate, while humans succeed 82% of the time.
Bard’s success rate is 0%.
Describing the results as “surprisingly disappointing”, co-creator Collin Waldoch wrote: “Bard was unable to solve a single Twofer Goofer when he was given the task. He came close on a couple of occasions, but ultimately failed.” .
Google may have run into an innovator’s dilemma, where incumbents face a real threat from young, nimble companies if they decide to stay the course and not innovate.
The company may have an impressive AI tool up its sleeve. Hugh Langley of Business Insider, reported in early March that Google employees are testing a smarter version of Bard, dubbed “Big Bard.” The tool, Langley wrote, has more human-like responses and is more informal. What is available to the public is the light version.
Google has long opposed an OpenAI-like strategy to release powerful AI for commercial use, due to ethical issues surrounding a technology that is prone to error, bias, and misuse. But this is now the age of AI, as Bill Gates dared to say the day Bard was launched. The development of AI, in his words, “is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet and the mobile phone.”
It should be noted that Gates does not mention Internet search on his list of key developments. Google may have to move faster to cement its position in tech industry history.