Google launches new features in AI battle with ChatGPT

Google has announced new conversational and generative AI plans and features that will escalate the web’s AI battle.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Adrian Weckler

Google has announced a new artificial intelligence model that looks set to challenge ChatGPT, as the online AI arms race escalates.

CEO Sundar Pichai says that its new conversational AI service, called Bard, will soon be available to the public to experiment and play with. It will first be opened up to a smaller number of testers. The company is also showcasing some new AI features in search.

It could mean a stepchange in how we use search engines every day, with more ‘natural’ questions resulting in more accurate, more complete answers.

Google is the dominant search engine in Europe, used for over 90pc of search engine queries.

But since it was opened up to the public late last year, ChatGPT has given a powerfully fresh glimpse into what might be possible in future for search, allowing public users to get essays, art or computer code in seconds, in response to requests framed in a specific style or format. The system, created by OpenAI, is so convincing that it has kicked off debates in schools and colleges about whether students can cheat at homework by submitting flawless essays ‘written’ by ChatGPT.

Since its launch, ChatGPT has been trialled by hundreds of millions of people and has now attracted a multi-billion dollar investment from one of Google’s biggest rivals, Microsoft.

“We are also sharing a glimpse at several AI features you'll soon see in Search which can help synthesise insights for questions where there’s no one right answer,” said Mr Pichai in a blogpost on Monday.

Google, he said, is also “working on new Generative Language APIs, starting with LaMDA, to arm developers, creators and enterprises so they can build their own AI products in the future.”

Some technologists have warned about the power of systems such as ChatGPT and other advanced conversational AI tools to generate and share misinformation or be used for other destructive purposes.

Mr Pichai said that the company is aware of how powerful such systems are.

“Our approach to AI has always been bold, but we’re also approaching it responsibly,” he said.

“Generative AI is playing an increasingly profound role in society, so it's imperative we consider the broader impact of our technology. That's why we’re committed to launching these features responsibly, to ensure we’re meeting our bar for safety, quality, and groundedness before we launch them more broadly to the public. It's a really important balance to get right.”