Google, Microsoft Fire Next Shots in AI Chatbot Showdown

ChatGPT on a phone in front of a Google logo.
(Image credit: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Google and Microsoft are both preparing to launch their latest salvos in a battle to take leadership in artificial intelligence, which has been gaining increasing amounts of attention from technology enthusiasts and a curious public alike.

Search giant Google announced a competitor to OpenAI's ChatGPT, called Bard, which uses its Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). In a blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote that the "experimental conversational AI service" is opening to "trusted testers" today and will expand to the wider public in "the coming weeks."

"Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models," Pichai wrote. "It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses." Its chief competitor, ChatGPT, doesn't know much about the world after 2021.

(Image credit: Google)

Pichai didn't list many of Bard's features, though it has a short video of the AI listing discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope in a way that could be explained to a 9-year-old. The post also suggests Bard could compare Oscar-nominated movies, get lunch ideas based on what's in your fridge or plan a baby shower.

Google also said that it will include its AI technologies in search, using them to summarize results and "distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats."

Google is holding an event about AI on Wednesday.  But shortly after Google's announcement, Microsoft struck back, announcing a press event at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters tomorrow, Feb. 7, to "share some progress on a few exciting projects," Bloomberg reports. Several news outlets are theorizing that the event will focus on Microsoft's "multi-billion dollar investment" with ChatGPT creator OpenAI. Recently, some users were shown early glimpses of what Microsoft's search engine, Bing, may look like with ChatGPT built in.

OpenAI CEO posted a tweet containing a photo of him with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Redmond, saying that he is "excited for the event tomorrow", adding some credibility to the theories.

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When ChatGPT became a sensation, Google reportedly went into a "code red" situation. Google has been working on AI quietly, and it's possible that Google has had a version of Bard working in some form for awhile. 

In July 2022, a senior software engineer at Google suggested that he thought the AI was sentient. ChatGPT can often be wrong, and is just as often extremely confident in its errors. But its warm reception may have given Google space to move Bard to the public and start the AI race in earnest, ready or not.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.

  • PlaneInTheSky
    Your son had an epileptic seizure. Did this happen before?
    -First time. We did give him some Absinthe to treat his cough.
    You gave your 10-year-old Absinthe? Why?
    -We asked ChatGPT how to treat coughs.
    Did ChatGPT give you any indication regarding the date of this information?
    -No. It did say we could try something called bloodletting too. I will look this up next.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    And Microsoft has already shot themselves in the foot sticking with the Bing name.

    Could have kept Cortana around, but nope...
    Reply
  • DougMcC
    Eximo said:
    And Microsoft has already shot themselves in the foot sticking with the Bing name.

    Could have kept Cortana around, but nope...

    Because it's the name that makes no one want to use it?
    Reply
  • Eximo
    DougMcC said:
    Because it's the name that makes no one want to use it?

    Do you associate Bing with good things?
    Reply
  • ezst036
    Seeing Microsoft and Google battling it out on a new field is good news, I think.
    Reply
  • DavidLejdar
    " lunch ideas based on what's in the fridge" - And that just for several billions? What a bargain!!!
    Now if it just could tell how to fill that fridge or with what to cook when one has been affected by a layoff, such as at at MS and Google, huh?
    Reply
  • 4Forethought
    Eximo said:
    Do you associate Bing with good things?
    Well, Bing Crosby was a pretty good crooner...😉
    Reply
  • BillyBuerger
    DougMcC said:
    Because it's the name that makes no one want to use it?

    Oh gawd yes. The only thing I associate Cortana with is when doing a clean windows install and having it blaring at 60% volume saying "Hi there, I'm Cortana..." and then rage mashing the mute button and whatever else is in the way of that button.
    Reply
  • JamesJones44
    For all sides this is definitely over hyped. There are exciting things happening in AI, LaMDA isn't one of them IMO, but... it's generating a lot of buzz, so that part is good.
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    Microsoft, Google, and the other big corporations need to put ChatGPT and their other AI projects back inside their research departments. These things aren't fully baked yet. Not saying they're a bad idea. Just getting annoyed at having to contest automated flags for nudity on hand drawn artwork of fantasy scenes, or have my car try to hang me by the seat belt every time it needs to pass under a bridge while on cruise. Also not looking forward to the future where airlines force you to seek customer service from an AI to fix their own inability to keep to their schedule.

    Way too early to be rolling out so many error-prone AIs. Again, not saying it shouldn't be done...we're just not there yet.
    Reply