Understanding the Battle for Conversational AI
March 31, 2023
The Struggle for AI Dominance

ChatBot Wars

Last week was agonizing as I witnessed the sequence of events unfold. To begin with, Google announced the upcoming launch of BARD. Microsoft announced the limited availability of a new version of their Bing search engine and Edge web browser that incorporates ChatGPT integration. Finally, the Google hosted event in Paris focused on everything except BARD.

For Microsoft, things could not be better. Let a trusted partner take the risk and if the outcome goes well, join them quickly in the celebration. Google does not have this luxury and when they had their 1st “ChatGPT moment” back in 2018, the technology performed flawlessly and people freaked out. The response by Google was predictable, pull it back and hide it behind the curtain.

Despite the setback, Google's engineers continued to work on the AI powering their chatbot which was called LaMDA (Language Models for Dialogue Applications). On May 18, 2021, via a blog post, Google announced LaMDA formally which was followed by controversy when former Google engineer Blake Lemoine made a public statement in which he called on the company to consider the possibility that LaMDA might be sentient.

Chatbot Wars - Google BARD

What is Google BARD?

BARD builds on the capabilities of LaMDA by incorporating a biologically inspired dynamic architecture. This new approach mimics the way the human brain processes information, allowing the system to adapt and evolve based on the data it receives.

It is capable of not only generating human-like responses to questions, but also of understanding the context of the conversation and making decisions based on that understanding. In theory, this allows it to provide more accurate and relevant responses.

Where are we now?

The widespread adoption of ChatGPT is rapidly increasing and OpenAI is now offering a premium subscription called "Plus" for $20 per month. Developers are working diligently to create Chrome extensions, ChatGPT-powered productivity platforms, and integrations into their respective products.

Google reports that it is presently testing BARD and it is not accessible to the general public. It’s important to note, other than testing, everything happening with ChatGPT is not happening with BARD. Furthermore, the recent layoff of employees and the widely reported BARD error (see below) have only worsened the situation.

Everything looked good, response time was great, but the answer wasn't "entirely" correct. Once again people freaked out.

As Sundar Pichai stated not too long ago, Google is at an inflection point. He could not be more right.