Google Aims to Overtake ChatGPT’s Head Start With Launch of AI Chatbot ‘Bard’

The test phase of the service follows a $300 million investment last week in another AI startup

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Google is launching its own chatbot in the latest effort to bring competition to Microsoft’s hyper-popular ChatGPT.

The release of “Bard,” its conversational artificial intelligence service, comes days after the tech giant invested $300 million in startup Anthropic, which is developing its own chatbot technology. But the technology behind Bard reflects Google’s own research, Sundar Pinchai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, said in a blog post late Monday.

Bard, a word that means “poet” and is often used to refer to William Shakespeare, is powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications, or LaMBDA, technology released two years ago, Pinchai said. The program will initially be made available to “trusted testers” before “making it more widely available to the public in the coming weeks,” the CEO said.

“Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills,” Pinchai’s post effused.

Pinchai noted that Google has a long history of using AI to improve search. It plans to continue to incorporate LaMDA and other AI into its search engine.

“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner,” Pinchar wrote.

The announcement follows a report last week that Google has been pushing its employees to rollout out ChatGPT-like products. CNBC said the effort was a “code red” effort in response to the soaring popularity of the Microsoft-backed program. In a recent all-hands meeting, CNBC said, employees raised concerns about the company’s competitiveness in AI.

In fact, Bard’s launch comes just two weeks after Microsoft said it is pouring more money after its $1 billion investment in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note on Tuesday that Microsoft will likely be in the “$10 billion range,” which he called “a game changer.”

Since that program was released in late 2022, it’s gained more than 100 million users, with OpenAI’s website soaring to one of the top 50 global websites.

“With Google aggressively looking to defend its turf on the search front with its own beta AI tool named Bard, Microsoft is aggressively going after the AI opportunity on both the cloud front as well as the search frontier,” Ives wrote. “We view this as the first shot across the bow in this Big Tech AI battle that is set to hit its next gear of investments over the coming months with Microsoft now leading the race.”

Microsoft is also integrating the tool into its Bing search and Office 365 suite of programs. The company also set a $20 monthly fee for its premium service last week.

Alphabet shares added $1.55 to $104.45 in late morning trading. Microsoft shares shot up $6.33, or 2.5%, to $263.10.