Google has opened the gates to Bard, at least to English speakers in many parts of the world. After two months of more limited testing, the waitlist governing access to the AI-powered chatbot is gone.
Google announced its move Google I/O developer conference on Wednesday, a week after Microsoft removed the waitlist for its competing Bing chatbot. In addition to opening Bard to people in 180 English-speaking countries and territories, it has added chat capabilities in Japanese and Korean as part of a plan to expand to 40 languages.
Chatbots have been around since Eliza from the 1960s, but new artificial intelligence technologies such as large language models and generative AI have made them even more useful. LLMs are trained to find patterns in large collections of text from the internet, books and other sources, and use generative AI analysis to respond to text prompts with sound. in human written conversation.
Read more: Google Reveals Its AI-Powered Search Engine To Keep Up With The Competition
It’s a revolution in what computers can do, combining a lot of information with a natural interface. Chatbots have demonstrated skills in writing poetry, answering philosophical questions, developing software, passing exams and offering tax advice.
But modern chatbots also generate data quickly, and their supporters are working hard to prevent them from contributing to problems such as abuse, misinformation, hacking and sexual harassment. And those are immediate concerns. AI is now powerful enough to fuel fears about eliminating white-collar jobs and destroying civilization.
Despite pioneering some of the technology behind new chatbots, Google is a bit late to the party. OpenAI’s ChatGPT website has sparked a flurry of interest. Microsoft, an OpenAI investor, built the underlying GPT-4 technology into its own Bing search engine.
“Google is hesitant to do this,” said John Hennessy, Stanford University professor and board member of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, in a speech in April.
But now Google is working to come up with what Bard product leader Jack Krawczyk calls a “bold and responsible approach” intended to balance progress with caution.
“We will continue to expand to the top 40 languages shortly after I/O,” Krawczyk said. Google could have expanded to 40 languages now, but limited it to Japanese and Korean to proceed more cautiously, he said.
Bard’s alignment with human values
“It’s part of our commitment to responsibility and alignment and understanding the limitations that we know there are in many language models,” Krawczyk said. Alignment refers to the principle of ensuring that AI behavior is aligned with human interests.
In addition to making Bard public, it adds options to export Bard chat data to the Google Docs word processing tool and the Google Sheets spreadsheet.
A tricky part of AI chatbots is finding out where they get their information from. That opacity makes it difficult to verify facts, provide information to appropriate sources and generally understand why a chatbot offers the results it does.
Better Bard citations in source material
Google hopes to help with this problem with an improvement that will come soon, at the beginning of answers involving programming code.
“Starting next week, we’ll make code citations more accurate by showing you specific blocks of code that have been extracted along with any relevant licensing information,” Krawczyk said. “It can be used to cite narrative content from around the web as well.”
Also in the works is the ability to manage images, as the prompt you give to Bard and as part of its responses. And Google will offer an interface that will allow developers to marry Bard with Google apps and third-party apps. One of the first: Adobe’s Firefly suite of generative AI tools.
Wondering what else is new from Google? Check out the Pixel Fold, Pixel 7A, Pixel Tablet and Android 14.
Editors’ note: CNET uses an AI engine to generate some personal finance explanations that are edited and fact-checked by our editors. For more, see this post.