Google is working on a new AI tool to counter ChatGPT, but you can't have it yet

Google Io 2021 Keynote Lamda
(Image credit: Android Central)

Google has taken the wraps off its next piece of software and told us about Bard.

Bard is an AI service powered by Google's own LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) model it showed us a few years ago. Like LaMDA, none of us gets to use this any time soon as it has been "released" to trusted testers only.

We did get a blog post all about it and it tells us what to expect. I think of it as a mash-up of Google Assistant and Google Search, where you can ask a question and get an answer on top of a list of search results. As Google puts it:

"Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills."

Google Bard screen capture

(Image credit: Google)

This looks like a standalone text-based assistant. You type in a question and it gives you an answer. Of course, this is just an image from Google's blog post so the final form may not resemble this at all. 

This would also give search results more context when it gets it right. When it gets it wrong hopefully, it will be hilarious instead of harmful. Having a helpful answer atop of relevant search results is something nobody would complain about, providing those results are at least as good as they have always been.

Google Bard inside search

(Image credit: Google)

There are a couple of interesting things implied by Google. The first is that the image above shows the potential results on an iPhone. That could mean the addition of Bard to search will be server-side (Google already incorporates a ChatGPT-like AI in search called Bert) or it may be part of a Google search app.

More importantly for Android users, Google notes that Bard is using the lightweight version of LaMDA. This version requires fewer resources than the standard LaMDA model so if this is incorporated into Android the way Google Assistant is today, it could be done locally versus sending even more data off to the cloud. Even a dependable but affordable Android phone could use it.

For the most part, this is Google's answer to the ChatGPT craze. We knew it was coming eventually — Google is one of the largest AI companies in the world — but we also know Google had to wait until they thought it was ready. I assume the limited testing is to see just how ready it really is.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.