Google plans to integrate its Bard AI chatbot with its popular search engine with the goal of eventually adding conversational back-and-forth to user’s search queries. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai revealed this news in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Pichai was light on details about the integration, but indicated it would involve letting users interact directly with its large language models (LLM) directly its search engine. For those who don't speak AI, that's the tech behind the Bard chatbot’s ability to predict reasonable responses and maintain a conversation.
Google is testing several new features, including a version that allows users to ask follow-up questions to their original queries. It is currently developing AI features for Gmail and other work-related products.
“Will people be able to ask questions to Google and engage with LLMs in the context of search? Absolutely," Pichai said.
Analysis: Google aims to keep its lead
Google has long been a dominant power in search engine technology, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all searches worldwide. This makes it even more embarrassing that it's been playing second fiddle to Microsoft’s ChatGPT-enhanced Bing search engine when it comes to incorporating AI-powered chatbots.
While the two faired pretty similarly in terms of quality of answers when we tested them side by side, Bard's rollout has seen some embarrassing snafus. For example, Bard claimed (during a live event) that the James Webb Space Telescope was used to take the first pictures of a planet outside the Earth's solar system. This accomplishment belongs to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.
Google plans to continue to improve the chatbot with new AI models, Pichai said, but didn't say when Bard will be freely available. Google opened up access to the public in March, albeit via a waitlist (here's a guide on how to join).
While Pichai didn’t establish a timeline for Bard’s integration into search, we’re likely to hear more about the company’s plans for incorporating AI into its products at Google’s I/O 2023 conference keynote on May 10. If Google's presentation demonstrates continued dominance, it may obviate Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's comment to the Journal that this field is "a new race is starting with a completely new platform technology."