New competition for ChatGPT? Google announces Bard and other AI advancements

Move over, ChatGPT — there’s a new generative AI tool in town.

Well, not quite yet. In a blog post published earlier this week, the company unveiled its own conversational artificial intelligence chatbot, Bard, which is currently in beta testing among a few “trusted” individuals.

And Bard wasn’t the only language tech announcement the company had this week. On Wednesday, Google held its Live from Paris event, where the company also announced a handful of new updates to machine translation (MT) tool Google Translate earlier this week, such as new-and-improved contextual information for translations between certain languages. The developments indicate Google continues to push forward in its language technology efforts while also diversifying the conversational AI chatbot scene.

“AI has helped power some of our biggest advancements in translation in the years since we’ve launched Google Translate,” reads a Feb. 8 blog post from Google Translate’s product manager, Xinxing Gu. “Today, we’re launching even more AI-powered features to provide helpful and contextual awareness when using Translate on mobile and the web.”

Announced just a couple of days before the Live from Paris event began, Bard is currently open only to “trusted testers,” but the company plans to open it up to a more general audience in the next few weeks. Much like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the tool uses Google’s own large language model, LaMDA, to produce human-like strings of text. Many in the media have compared Bard’s capabilities to those of ChatGPT, though Bard aims to serve a more informational purpose, and sources information that it collects from the internet (whereas ChatGPT only has information going up to 2021).

Then on Wednesday, the company announced a handful of improvements to Google Translate. If you’re an Android user, you may have already noticed the app’s sleek new design — iOS users will get a glimpse of that in a few weeks, the company says. And that’s not to mention the fact that certain languages will also begin to feature improved context notes, similar to what you might see in a dictionary entry for a given word.

In his Monday announcement of Bard, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote that the company pivoted its focus toward AI about six years ago — if that wasn’t clear before this week, it certainly is now.

“When people think of Google, they often think of turning to us for quick factual answers, like ‘how many keys does a piano have?’” Pichai wrote. “But increasingly, people are turning to Google for deeper insights and understanding — like, ‘is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?’ … AI can be helpful in these moments, synthesizing insights for questions where there’s no one right answer.”

JMCC Conferente Center

The conference will be taking place in the stunning surroundings of the recently renovated John McIntyre Centre (JMCC). Part of the Pollock Estate, the JMCC is located in the vibrant Southside of Edinburgh and nestled on the edge of Holyrood Park. The estate offers a residential conference village environment within the city. It is easily accessible on foot or by public transport from the city centre while also boasting electric car charging points and parking.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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