Google employees have been testing several potential ChatGPT competitors as part of the tech giant’s bid to launch a response to OpenAI’s technology, according to CNBC. A previous New York Times report said that Google CEO Sundar Pichai declared “code red” and accelerated AI development to be able to unveil at least 20 AI-powered products this year. Now, CNBC has detailed several of the products the company is working on, including a chatbot called “Apprentice Bard” that uses Google’s LaMDA conversation technology.
Apparently, Google management asked the LaMDA team to prioritize working on a ChatGPT competitor, telling them that it takes precedence over any other project and even warning them not to attend unrelated meetings. Apprentice Bard reportedly looks and functions like ChatGPT in that a user can type a question or a prompt in a text box and then get a written response.
CNBC says it saw samples proving the bot’s answers include information from recent events — something ChatGPT isn’t capable of, because it only has limited knowledge about anything that happened after 2021. In one example, Apprentice Bard was able to answer whether there will be another round of layoffs at Google. (Unlikely for this year, it said, seeing as the company is doing well financially.) If you’ll recall, Google’s LaMDA tech had gotten a former company engineer fired after he claimed that it had gained sentience.
Google is also reportedly testing a new search page that uses a question and answer format. The experimental home page features five potential question prompts replacing “I’m feeling lucky” under the search bar. After a user types in their query, the page generates human-like responses in gray bubbles. Underneath those responses are suggested follow-up questions, followed by the typical search results with links and headlines. In addition, Alphabet is working on a project called “Atlas” under its cloud unit. While CNBC didn’t have details on what it is, it’s still reportedly part of Google’s “code red” efforts.
It’s unclear at this point which of Google’s projects are going to be released to the public. Google AI chief Jeff Dean told employees during an all-hands meeting to discuss the company’s response to ChatGPT that it’s moving “more conservatively than a small startup.” Providing people wrong information will have a much bigger impact for a known company like Google, after all. Indeed, The Times previously said that the tech giant is prioritizing safety, accuracy and blocking out misinformation when it comes to the development of its search chatbot. If reports that Microsoft is incorporating ChatGPT’s technology into Bing as soon as this March are true, however, we’ll also likely see Google’s search chatbot in the near future.
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