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What is Google Bard? Here's everything you need to know

Following the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT, Google released its own AI chatbot, Bard. Now that its waitlist is available, here is what you need to know.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Associate Editor on
A phone that has Google's logo on it with the word Bard in the bakground
NurPhoto/Getty Images

What is Google Bard?

Bard is Google's experimental, conversational, AI chat service. It is meant to function similarly to ChatGPT, with the biggest difference being that Google's service will pull its information from the web. 

When was Google Bard announced?

Bard was unveiled on February 6 in a statement from Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Even though Bard was an entirely new concept at the announcement, the AI chat service is powered by Google's Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), which was unveiled two years ago. 

How does Google Bard work?

LaMDA was built on Transformer, Google's neural network architecture that it invented and open sourced in 2017. Interestingly, GPT-3, the language model ChatGPT functions on, was also built on Transformer, according to Google

Also: Google's Bard builds on controversial LaMDA bot that engineer called 'sentient' 

The initial version of Bard will utilize a lightweight model version of LaMDA, because it requires less computing power and can be scaled to more users, according to the release. In addition to LaMDA, Bard will draw on all the information from the web to provide responses. Pichai said pulling from the web would provide "fresh, high-quality responses."

The use of LaMDA is a sharp contrast from most AI chatbot's right now, including ChatGPT and Bing Chat, which use an LLM in the GPT series. 

Who has access to Google Bard?

Google opened up its Bard waitlist on Mar. 21, 2023. The waitlist will grant access to limited users in the US and UK on a rolling basis. Google will collect early user feedback to continue to improve the AI chatbot. 

How to get on the Google Bard waitlist?

To get on the Bard waitlist, all you have to do is visit the homepage, sign in to your Google account, accept the terms and conditions and you are set. 

For a full how-to click HERE

What is the controversy around Google Bard?

Google's Bard had a rough launch, with a demo of Bard delivering inaccurate information about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). To launch the AI service, Google tweeted a demo of the AI chat service in which the prompt read, "What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?"  Bard replied: "JWST took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system." 

People quickly noticed that the output response was factually incorrect. As ZDNET reporter Stephanie Condon reports, the first photo of an exoplanet was taken in 2004 by the European Southern Observatory's VLT (Very Large Telescope).

Also: I asked ChatGPT write a WordPress plugin I needed. It did it in less than 5 minutes 

"This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we're kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program," said a Google spokesperson to ZDNET in a statement. 

Before Bard was released, Google's LaMDA came under fire as well. As ZDNET's Tiernan Ray reports, shortly after LaMDA's publication, former Google engineer Blake Lemoine released a document in which he shared that LaMDA might be "sentient." This controversy faded after Google denied the sentience and put Lemoine on paid administrative leave before letting him go from the company.

Why did Google decide to unveil Google Bard now?

ChatGPT has been a hit since its release. In less than a week after launching, ChatGPT had more than one million users. According to analysis by Swiss bank UBS, ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app of all time. Because of this success, other tech companies, including Google, are trying to get into the space while it's hot. 

Within the same week Google unveiled Bard, Microsoft unveiled a new AI-improved Bing, which runs on a next-generation OpenAI large language model customized specifically for search. 

What other AI services does Google have?

Google has developed other AI services that have yet to be released to the public. The tech giant typically treds lightly when it comes to AI products and doesn't release them until it's confident in a product's performance. 

For example, Google has developed an AI image generator, Imagen, which could be a great alternative to OpenAI's DALL-E when released. Google also has an AI music generator, MusicLM, which Google says it has no plans to release at this point. 

Also: How Google Socratic can help you do homework

In a recent paper discussing MusicLM, Google recognizes the risk that these kinds of models could pose to the misappropriation of creative content and inherent biases present in the training that could affect cultures underrepresented in the training, as well fears over cultural appropriation. 

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