On Tuesday, the battle between Google and Microsoft escalated as Google opened public access to Bard, its new AI chatbot tool and ChatGPT’s latest competitor, but the two have major differences, including the ability to remember past conversations and their knowledge base limits.
Only offered to select markets in the U.S. and U.K., hopeful users can sign up for the waitlist to gain access to Bard, which claims to help users plan a birthday party, understand complex topics and create a pros and cons list for a tough decision.
In an effort to separate the chatbot, which is designed to give human-like responses, from its popular search engine, Google has created a standalone website for Bard.
Bard runs on Google’s large learning model Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), which it promises will be updated with new information over time.
In November 2022, Microsoft-backed OpenAI released ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot that can answer questions and solve unique problems, like writing a college level essay or drafting a contract between artist and producer.
Google has been in a race to compete with OpenAI since December 2022, declaring a “code red” in response to the launch of ChatGPT.
- Coding: One of the most prominent things that gave ChatGPT its claim to fame was its ability to create complex code. It can even debug code. Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and University College London put the chatbot against industry “standard automated program repair techniques,” and two common deep learning approaches and found ChatGPT “is competitive to the common deep learning approaches,” and produced “notably better” results than the standard program repair approaches, according to their paper published in arXiv. However, Google stated Bard is “still learning code,” so the feature isn’t available just yet.
- Conversation Retention: According to OpenAI, ChatGPT is able to remember what was said in previous conversations. But there are two caveats: the bot can only remember up to 3,000 words (anything beyond that isn’t stored), and it doesn’t use past conversation to form responses. Bard’s ability to retain context is “purposefully limited for now,” Google said, but the company claims the ability will grow over time.
- Responses: One of the biggest differences between the two is Bard’s LaMDA can draw responses from the internet, so it will always have the latest responses. It’s also integrated into Google’s search engine and can provide direct links to websites when prompted. On the other hand, ChatGPT runs on Generative Pre-training Transformer-4 (GPT-4), so all of its responses come from its knowledge base, whose cutoff date ends in September 2021, so it’s limited in newer information and research.
- Language: ChatGPT knows several languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin, Italian, Japanese and Korean, though its proficiency in responses varies by language and its primary language is English. Bard is only available and can only speak in English.
- Drafts: Bard creates several different versions of every prompt (called “drafts”), allowing users to pick the best response. This was implemented because there’s a “sense of authoritativeness” when only one response is used, Jack Krawczyk, a senior product director at Google, told MIT Technology Review. ChatGPT only produces one response to questions.
At Google’s pitch in February, Bard incorrectly answered a question during a promotional video, costing Google’s parent company Alphabet $100 billion in market value.