21 Mar What Is Google Bard? Hands-on With the AI Chatbot
The AI chatbot trend was kicked off by ChatGPT, and followed with Microsoft’s Bing Chat. Google Bard is late to the game, but it has the world’s most popular search engine behind it. Does it have anything new to say?
Google Bard is a conversational AI chatbot—otherwise known as a “large language model”—similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It was trained on a massive dataset of text and code, which it uses to generate human-like text responses.
That’s the key to AI chatbots like Bard: the training process. Bard uses machine learning to analyze text, then predicts the next word based on what it’s learned. It’s essentially very fancy predictive text. Bard puts words together in a way that mimics human speaking.
Bard is powered by Google’s “LaMDA” (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) model. The same LaMDA that Google engineer Blake Lemoine claimed had become sentient. LaMDA is responsible for Bard’s human-like responses, while the information comes from the web.
Google Bard Hands-on
At the time of writing, you can sign up for the Bard waitlist at bard.google.com. We have access to Bard already, so let’s take a look at how it works.
Bard’s user interface is very Google-y—lots of rounded corners, pastel accents, and simple icons. It all starts with the text box at the bottom of the screen. This is where you can enter a prompt with your keyboard or voice.
Unlike ChatGPT and Bing Chat, Bard doesn’t “type” the response in real-time or tell you what it’s doing in the background. You see a loading icon, and then Bard gives the full response.
After the response is given, there are a couple of buttons at the bottom. You can rate the response with a thumbs up or down, regenerate the response to the same prompt, or do a Google Search for it.
If you choose “Bad Response,” you can leave some feedback about why you didn’t like it.
One great feature Bard has is “drafts.” You can tap the “View Other Drafts” drop-down to see alternative responses to the prompt, and quickly switch between them. I really like this feature as it means you essentially get three responses right away for every prompt.
Bard is conversational, so you can keep asking follow-up prompts, and it will know the context. However, you can reset the conversation with the “Reset Chat” button in the left sidebar.
ChatGPT can save and share conversations, but Google Bard can’t. The “Bard Activity” shortcut in the left sidebar takes you to a list of past prompts, but you can’t revisit Bard’s responses. Similar to Search history, it can be deleted or turned off.
What about sources? Google Bard sometimes cites its sources, but not always. When it does, you’ll see a “Sources” box appear under the response.
Of course, just like ChatGPT and Bing Chat, Bard is not a factual source of information. For example, it told me an Oreo cookie has a chocolate filling. Sure, some Oreos have chocolate filling, but is that a defining characteristic of a classic Oreo? No.
Overall, the UI is friendlier than both ChatGPT and Bing Chat, but Bard is not as feature-packed as Bing Chat. Bard can’t create comparison tables, and it’s not very good at text art, or making quizzes. At the time of writing, Bard is a pretty AI chatbot, but not a particularly good one when compared to the competition.
RELATED: Google Bard: How to Use Google’s AI Chatbot
What Does Google “Bard” Stand For?
“Bard” is such a strange name that you might assume it’s an acronym, but that’s not the case. Unfortunately, Google has not officially explained the Bard name. However, it’s widely assumed to be a reference to the word that means “poet.” Poets have a way with words, and Google is implying Bard does as well.
When Did Google Bard Release?
Google Bard was first announced on February 6th, 2023, and the waitlist to use Bard opened up on March 21, 2023. Feeling pressure from the launch of ChatGPT, CEO Sundar Pichai reassigned several teams to bolster Google’s AI efforts. The first public demonstration of Bard leads to Google’s stock falling eight percent.
Does Google Bard Save Data?
Bard data is treated the same as data from most Google products—it can be manually deleted, auto-deleted, or never saved. You can access these controls from the myactivity.google.com dashboard and filter for “Bard,” or go there directly with this link.
At launch, Google Bard seems to be pretty far behind ChatGPT and Bing Chat. The interface is nice, but it just doesn’t have the same depth of features and abilities. It’s a bit surprising to see a Google product in this space feel so underbaked. Only time will tell if Google can compete.