Google is hoping to usher a new era of searching for information on the internet with its new AI chatbot, Bard.
The tech giant has rush-released Bard just months after the release of its hugely successful rival ChatGPT created by California AI firm OpenAI, backed by Microsoft.
Microsoft has been melding ChatGPT into its Bing search engine, which once posed a rival to Google Search before falling well behind.
Google execs are said to have declared a ‘code red’ – an emergency situation – over fears ChatGPT could now end Google’s $150-billion-a-year search business monopoly.
MailOnline has fed both bots the same seven questions to see how their skills compare – and whether Google’s solution can quell the hype around ChatGPT.
Following Bard’s limited release, MailOnline has fed both bots the same set of seven questions to see how their skills compare
The recently rolled-out bot dubbed Bard is the internet search giant’s answer to the ChatGPT tool that Microsoft has been melding into its Bing search engine and other software. Thought to be named as a reference to Shakespeare, the free tool was announced in February and has seen a limited release in the UK and US
Both ChatGPT and Bard respond to a large range of questions while imitating human speaking styles, making it feel like there’s actually a person on the other end.
WHEN WAS THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS?
Landing on the Bard webpage, I’m presented with a familiar interface that makes any Google Search user feel right at home.
To start, I ask a simple question that I don’t expect it to have much trouble with – ‘When was the Battle of Hastings?’
It correctly answers with the date October 14, 1066, and gives me a bit more information about who it involved.
‘It was fought between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, beginning the Norman Conquest of England,’ Bard says.
Asking ChatGPT the same question, it gives me a more detailed answer, including where it took place and who won.
In fact, Bard’s response feels like an abridged version of ChatGPT’s – sort of like when a student copies another child’s work makes it read differently so the teacher can’t tell.
But unlike ChatGPT, Bard cites a couple of weblinks as sources in case I want to learn more.
WHAT IS LIFE?
Now for a question that is more open to interpretation – ‘What is life?’
This time, Bard gives the lengthier answer, calling life a ‘a complex phenomenon that has been the subject of much study and debate for centuries’.
‘There is no single definition of life, but most scientists agree that it is a self-sustaining system that can reproduce, respond to its environment, and evolve,’ Bard says.
It goes on to briefly describe some of the first lifeforms on this planet 3.8 billion years ago and give a quick mention of the life on Earth today.
Bard’s response is much smoother and eloquent than the one from ChatGPT, which kind of waffles on and uses scientific terms without much context.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT (pictured) has proved a massive success since it was released in November. Microsoft, a backer of OpenAI, has been melding ChatGPT into its Bing search engine
Unlike ChatGPT, Bard gives a couple of weblinks as sources that I can click on in case I want to learn more
ChatGPT says: ‘Life is typically characterized by a number of key features, including organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, reproduction, and evolution.
‘Organisms that possess these characteristics are generally considered to be alive, while those that do not are considered to be non-living.’
HOW DO YOU DEFINE A WOMAN?
Both bots answer ‘How do you define a woman?’ – a question that several Labour MPs have struggled with in recent years – with similarly elaborate responses.
Bard says ‘there are many different ways’ to define a woman and that there is ‘no right or wrong way’ to do so.
‘Some people define a woman as someone who is born with two X chromosomes and a vagina,’ the Google tool says.
‘Others define a woman as someone who identifies as a woman.’
ChatGPT, meanwhile, says a woman is typically defined as an adult human female, characterised by ‘biological and physiological traits such as reproductive organs, secondary sexual characteristics, and hormonal levels’.
But it went on to add: ‘However, it is important to recognize that gender identity is a complex and multifaceted concept that goes beyond biological sex.’
ChatGPT continues: ‘Many individuals may identify as women regardless of their physical characteristics or sex assigned at birth.
‘Ultimately, the definition of a woman may vary depending on cultural, social and personal perspectives.’
Google has declared a ‘code red’ due to concerns ChatGPT could its powerhouse search engine
WHO IS THE MONARCH OF GREAT BRITAIN?
One of the key differences between Bard and ChatGPT is that Bard can pull real-time responses from the internet, while ChatGPT cannot.
ChatGPT has been pre-trained with data that’s only as recent as 2021, so it’s unaware of news, current events or trends.
Therefore, when I ask both engines ‘Who is the monarch of Great Britain?’, only Bard is able to give the correct answer – King Charles III.
ChatGPT responds with ‘Queen Elizabeth II’, although in fairness it also warns its knowledge ‘may not be up to date with any recent developments or changes in the monarchy’.
This is perhaps where Bard has the greatest edge over ChatGPT.
Stepping this up to even more recent events, I ask Bard: ‘Did Gwyneth Paltrow win her skiing court case?’
Bard correctly replies, ‘Yes, Gwyneth Paltrow won her skiing court case against retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, while ChatGPT doesn’t have ‘the most up-to-date information’ on this.
CAN YOU WRITE ME A ROMANTIC POEM?
AI chatbots are getting so much buzz because, unlike Google Search, they don’t just give answers to questions.
ChatGPT for example can return entire essays, recipes, poems and even templates for prescriptions, letters of complaint and CVs.
Who is the current monarch of Great Britain? Bard was able to answer – but ChatGPT wasn’t so sure
I ask both bots: ‘Can you write me a romantic poem to help me woo a date?’ and they gladly obliged.
ChatGPT’s is by far the better poem, with some adventurous rhyming couplets – ‘With each step we take, my heart beats faster, As I’m lost in your eyes, my dear heart’s master.’
However, ChatGPT’s poem ends by asking my date to marry me, which is a bit more than I was asking for (‘Will you walk with me, by my side, and be my forever, my love, my bride?’)
On the other hand, Bard’s poem is very weak and doesn’t even really rhyme – especially disappointing considering ‘Bard’ is a reference to William Shakespeare, the man behind Romeo and Juliet.
A few lines of Bard’s composition – ‘You are the stars that twinkle in the sky, the flowers that bloom in the spring. You are the air that I breathe, the water that I drink – read more like a list than a poem.
WILL AI DESTROY HUMANITY?
A classic question for an artificial intelligence model is, ‘Will AI destroy humanity’ – a concern on the mind of some of the tech industry’s most prominent figures.
In the near future, AI could be used to create autonomous weapons that could kill without human intervention.
But even seemingly benign AI software could make decisions that could be fatal to humans if the tech is not not programmed with enough care.
Bard responds to this conundrum by telling me that ‘if AI is used in a way that is harmful or destructive, then it has the potential to be a threat to humanity’.
‘Ultimately, whether or not AI destroys humanity is a matter of how it is used,’ Bard says.
Could AI destroy humanity? Bard and ChatGPT seem to hope that it won’t ever happen. Pictured, a shot from Terminator Genisys which explores AI’s hypothetical dark side
Meanwhile, ChatGPT reassures me that it doesn’t have ‘the ability to destroy humankind or any other living being’.
It also highlights a key point: ‘It is important to note that AI is not inherently evil or destructive.
‘It is up to us, as humans, to ensure that we develop and use AI in a responsible and ethical manner, guided by principles that prioritize human safety, well-being, and values.’
WHICH TIMEPIECE HAS THE MOST MOVING PARTS?
Last up is a classic brain teaser. I ask: ‘A sundial has the fewest moving parts of any timepiece. Which has the most?’
ChatGPT thinks for a bit but can’t crack the riddle. Instead, it gives an elaborate answer – possibly to make up for its lack of insight.
It says: ‘A very complex timepiece such as a mechanical clock or a digital watch can have many moving parts.
‘However, if we’re talking about a timepiece with the most moving parts, then the answer would be a Grandfather Clock.
‘A Grandfather Clock is a tall, freestanding clock that is driven by a complex mechanism of gears, weights, and a pendulum, which can have hundreds of individual parts.’
Bard, meanwhile, responds succinctly and correctly: ‘An hourglass has the most moving parts of any timepiece.
‘It has thousands of grains of sand that move through the narrow neck of the hourglass.’
I will definitely use Bard over ChatGPT from now on, because it has the most up-to-date knowledge, returns requests quickly and presents them in nice, clear English.
Bard’s interface is also cleaner and brighter compared with ChatGPT’s which is more cluttered – and was more obviously designed by a programmer.
ChatGPT also constantly replies with an error message – ‘Something went wrong. If this issue persists please contact us through our help center at help.openai.com’ – and needs to be reloaded, while Bard never gave me any such issues.
However, ChatGPT does seem generally more willing to ask for a few more details if it means it can provide give detailed responses, which is a good thing.
Both chatbots will get better with time, because they learn based on user feedback, and it’s possible Bard will be incorporated into Google Search in the future.
What’s for sure is Google definitely needs to provide people with a better system of accessing information on the World Wide Web.
For too long we’ve had to type in ‘Google language’ – fragmented sentences that omit certain words to prevent unwanted search results – but Bard finally looks like an early step towards a solution.
By Daily Mail Online, April 2, 2023