What is Google's Bard and How Does it Compare to ChatGPT?

Nemanja Ćurčić
Feb 7, 2023
Artificial Intelligence

It's official – Google announced its reply to OpenAI's ChatGPT. The rival's name is Bard, and the air is already brimming with tension. Let the competition commence!

On February 6th, Google's long-awaited response to ChatGPT's rapid success finally came out. Google's new conversational AI is called Bard and it aims to overtake the generative AI throne from ChatGPT.

We all know about ChatGPT. It's a large language model that has dominated the Internet over the past couple of months with its ability to understand human language and provide fluent, fluid, and relevant answers to pretty much any question that can come to one's mind.

The force of ChatGPT's impact has transformed the digital landscape. Now, with the announcement of Bard, it looks like we should brace ourselves once more.

What is Bard?

Bard is the product of Google's investment into natural language processing and machine translation that began in 2017 with Google's Transformer and culminated in 2021 with LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications).

LaMDA is a conversational neural language model with many similarities to ChatGPT. Able to engage in free-flowing conversations about, well, anything, it gained widespread notoriety with Blake Lemoine's statement about LaMDA gaining sentience. A chatbot that convinces a Google engineer into anything, let alone its sentience, can be considered a persuasive piece of software.

Bard is the shining new product of Google's language model development.

It is ambitious. Google aims for it to "combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence, and creativity of our large language models". In other words, it will combine Google's access to massive databases of the whole web and the newly-unlocked creativity of generative AI.

The result, if true, is an evolved Search option that provides insights into complex queries and gives answers to multi-layered questions rather than a featured snippet and a bunch of links.

It sounds promising, even revolutionary. If what Google promises is true, Bard could help explain the new discoveries of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old or provide detailed instructions on becoming one of the top *insert the name of sport* players in the world.

Bard vs. ChatGPT - Similarities and Differences

The rivalry between Bard and ChatGPT is just a reflection of a grander flexing of muscles between Google and Microsoft. Both companies have invested heavily in the field of artificial intelligence, stepping onto each others' toes along the way by aiming at the same market.

So, what are the similarities and differences between Bard and ChatGPT?

The similarities are glaringly obvious: both Bard and ChatGPT are generative AI (chatbots) that rely on natural language processing and machine learning to provide answers and eloquently and easily communicate and understand human users.

However, the differences lie in how Bard and ChatGPT are developed.

While both have GPT-3.5 architecture as their core, their training diverged.

ChatGPT is a pre-trained model that was trained on web pages and writings. It aims to be fluent, mastering complex grammatical forms and grasping the gist of what makes our written communication. 

On the other hand, LaMDA, the system behind Bard, is a supervised-learning model that was fed a stupendous number of dialogues. Having analyzed data from actual conversations, it is more adept at sounding human and convincing the person behind the screen about its point. 

So, in direct comparison, Bard should be more convincing and provide answers that sound more human-like than those of its counterpart, while ChatGPT should be a bit more precise regarding the information given when answering queries. 

But these are little more than estimates until we see more of Bard (and ChatGPT-Bing search engine collaboration).

The Bigger Picture

The birth of Bard was hardly unexpected. When Microsoft announced that it would introduce ChatGPT to Bing, all eyes turned toward Google.

Google has a near-monopoly over the global search engine market, with more than 83% of global web searches going through its Google Search. Microsoft's Bing feels a bit lackluster, with just under 9% of the pie chart. The introduction of ChatGPT into the equation jeopardized Google's dominant position, so it was only a matter of time before Google was compelled to retaliate.

But Microsoft had seemingly expected this and replied to the reply. 

Minutes after news of Bard were released, Microsoft scheduled a special surprise event. Today, on February 7th, just a day after Google's statement, the new Bing and Edge browsers - upgraded with ChatGPT - were announced by Microsoft. The presentation showed what Microsoft claims to be "the future of search", with new, AI-powered results compared to the "old paradigm that hasn't changed for 20 years", a thinly-veiled jab at Google.

Future Developments?

OpenAI's ChatGPT is based on integration with other platforms, something that we have seen in all the generative AI software that has been popping up like mushrooms after the rain. Bard, however, is made by Google for Google.

If Bard becomes a success, we will likely see Google rolling out its shiny new feature across the whole board of its products. Rather than being optimized for integration with third-party software, it will likely be made to fit the company's plethora of products and services.

No matter who comes out of this struggle as a winner, the good thing is that the concept of searching the web will be transformed with generative AI. What will scrolling the web look like after this? We have yet to see it, but it looks very promising.