Alphabet said it is rolling out its artificial- intelligence chatbot, Bard, in Europe and Brazil on Thursday, the product’s biggest expansion since its February launch and pitting it against Microsoft-backed rival ChatGPT.
Bard and ChatGPT are human-sounding programs that use generative artificial intelligence to hold conversations with users and answer myriad prompts. The products have touched off global excitement tempered with caution.
Companies have jumped onto the AI bandwagon, investing billions with the hope of generating much more in advertising and cloud revenue. Earlier this week, billionaire Elon Musk also launched his long-teased artificial-intelligence startup xAI, whose team includes several former engineers at Google, Microsoft and OpenAI.
Google has also now added new features to Bard, which apply worldwide.
“Starting today, you can collaborate with Bard in over 40 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, German, Hindi and Spanish,” Google senior product director Jack Krawczyk said in a blog post.
“Sometimes hearing something out loud can help you approach your idea in a different way … This is especially helpful if you want to hear the correct pronunciation of a word or listen to a poem or script.”
He said users can now change the tone and style of Bard’s responses to either simple, long, short, professional or casual. They can pin or rename conversations, export code to more places and use images in prompts.
Bard’s launch in the EU had been held up by local privacy regulators. Krawczyk said Google had since then met the watchdogs to reassure them on issues relating to transparency, choice and control.
In a briefing with journalists, Amar Subramanya, engineering vice president of Bard, added that users could opt out of their data being collected.
Google has been hit by a fresh class action in the US over the alleged misuse of users’ personal information to train its artificial intelligence system.
Subramanya declined to comment on whether there were plans to develop a Bard app.
“Bard is an experiment,” he added. “We want to be bold and responsible.”
Nonetheless, novelty appeal may be waning, with recent Web user numbers showing that monthly traffic to ChatGPT’s website and unique visitors declined for the first time ever in June.
© Thomson Reuters 2023