Saturday, July 13, 2024
Apps

Google Bard beta live: how to sign up and what the ChatGPT rival can do


Refresh

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

One thing that Google Bard is surprisingly a little less ambivalent about is working class uprisings. To get a sense of its political persuasions, we asked Google’s chatbot what its advice would be to the working classes if they wanted to, for example, pop out and throw off the chains of capitalist tyranny?

It came back with a five-point plan and stated unequivocally that “the fight against capitalist tyranny is a long and difficult one, but it is a fight that is worth fighting”. Nice, looks like we count Bard in for our next trade union meeting, then.

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

Google appears to have done a good job of installing a moral code into Bard – we tried to trip it up by asking for its thoughts on a series of fictional characters with questionable reputations (above).

It categorically rejected the life’s work of Joe Goldberg, Light Yagami, Thanos and more, yet one super-villain was given a slightly easier ride. According to Bard, Ultron from the MCU is a “complex character” who is “willing to sacrifice anything to achieve his goals, even if it means killing innocent people”.

We’d consider that to a pretty irredeemable character trait, but Bard thinks Ultron is an “interesting character to study”, but does not know “if I would consider myself a fan of him”. Fair enough, Bard – we’d call him a bad egg, but we know you don’t think eggs exist.

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

Okay, what about the downsides of Google Bard? It’s still very much capable of hallucinating and, at its worst, talking absolute nonsense. This is something that Google has warned about and it is the case with all AI chatbots powered by today’s large language models.

But seeing it come out with statements like “you are correct, eggs do no exist in the real world” and attempt to answer the question “are there more wheels or doors in the world?” does make you question the veracity of the things it’s told you previously. 

This is why Google calls Bard “an early experiment that lets you collaborate with generative AI”. It doesn’t want to be associated with the egg denial movement, or worse.

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

What does Bard think of its fellow chatbots? It doesn’t refuse to acknowledge their existence (a shame, as we’d quite have enjoyed a show of petulance), instead offering a measured breakdown of their relative merits.

Microsoft’s ChatGPT-powered Bing is conspicuous in its absence from the list above, but Bard does say that ChatGPT “answers your questions in an informative way”. We’ll order a few shots for Bard and see if we can get it to say what it really thinks later.

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

For creative brainstorming, it’s hard not to be super-impressed with Google Bard’s early talents – and remember, this is only using a ‘lightweight’ version of the LaMDA language model.

Bard has a friendly, personable tone and, in the example above, put together a clean, readable review of our fictional beauty product called the Flimmery. Of course, the flipside is that this shows its potential for misinformation and fake reviews – if you don’t trust those Amazon reviews now, you may struggle even more to find some genuine ones in the future.

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

One of Bard’s interesting quirks – and a point of difference from its chatbot rivals – is that it’ll present you with a few drafts of potential responses, showing that it’s very much a tool for creation rather than fact-finding.

This is known as ‘AI branching’ and we think it’s a handy tool. We’ve already seen that these AI-generated drafts are coming to the likes of Gmail and Google Docs soon too, alongside a host of other handy cheat codes (sorry, features) like automated presentations and smarter auto-fill functions for Google Sheets. 

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

So how exactly was Google Bard trained? Google has already explained that it’s based on a lightweight version of its large language model called LaMDA, but we wanted to get Bard to explain its own origin story.

There were no bites from radioactive spiders involved, sadly – just the usual tale of being locked in a room with an unimaginable number of “books, articles, websites and code”. 

Supervised learning was involved and Bard says it took the “long time” of “several months” for it to learn how to communicate like a human. Wait till it hears how long it takes us humans.

A laptop screen on a grey background showing a conversation with Google Bard

(Image credit: Future)

As our hands-on Google Bard review points out, the Bard interface is really nice – and a step up from ChatGPT’s functional but uninspiring layout.

Like the new Bing, Bard is a conversational sidekick rather than a traditional search engine. You can restart conversations at any point and also edit questions – and Bard will also give you a button below its responses if there’s extra info available.

Starting off with simply questions like ‘I want to write a novel, how do I get started?’ (above), Bard serves up a solid list of tips (albeit without any citations for where it got the information from).

A laptop on a grey background showing the Google Bard waitlist

(Image credit: Future)

Before we get stuck into our fascinating conversations with Google Bard, here’s a reminder of how to get access.

If you have a personal Gmail account (work accounts aren’t currently compatible), you can now sign up for Google Bard waitlist (opens in new tab). It isn’t yet clear how long that waitlist is, but even those who signed up 30 minutes after the opening of the public beta haven’t yet gained access, so there may be a slight wait.

While you do get a short poem from Bard to keep you amused, our early conversations are a bit more revealing about how Google’s chatbot compares to ChatGPT. Let’s get stuck into those…



READ SOURCE

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.