Technology

Google CEO issues rallying cry in internal memo: All hands on deck to test ChatGPT competitor Bard

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Monday the company is going to need all hands on deck to test Bard, its new ChatGPT rival. He also said Google will soon be enlisting help from partners to test an application programming interface, or API, that would let others access the same underlying technology.

The internal memo came shortly after Pichai publicly announced Google’s new conversation technology, powered by artificial intelligence, which it will begin rolling out in the coming weeks. Google has faced pressure from investors and employees to compete with ChatGPT, a chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, which took the public by storm when it launched late last year.

“Next week, we’ll be enlisting every Googler to help shape Bard and contribute through a special company-wide dogfood,” Pichai wrote in the email to employees that was viewed by CNBC. “Dogfood” is a term used within companies to refer to a practice that includes using one’s own product before launching it.

“We’re looking forward to getting all of your feedback — in the spirit of an internal hackathon — more details coming soon,” he wrote.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google Inc. speaks during an event in New Delhi on December 19, 2022. 
Sajjad Hussain | AFP | Getty Images

Pichai’s note to employees also said search boss Prabhakar Raghavan will be “sharing progress” at an event in Paris later this week.

The internal note comes shortly after Pichai told the public in a blog post that Bard’s responses will need to be rigorously tested so they meet a “high bar for quality, safety, and groundedness in real-world information.”

Last week, CNBC reported that the Alphabet-owned company was enlisting employees to prioritize several AI projects as part of a “code red” effort to respond to the AI competition, including a chatbot code-named “Apprentice Bard” and new search features. Both were confirmed by the company’s blog post Monday.

Microsoft is reportedly planning to launch a version of its own search engine, Bing, that will use ChatGPT to answer users’ search queries. Microsoft is holding its own event Tuesday with participation from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

“It’s early days, we need to ship and iterate and we have a lot of hard and exciting work ahead to build these technologies into our products and continue bringing the best of Google Al to improve people’s lives,” Pichai wrote in his note to employees Monday. “We’ve been approaching this effort with an intensity and focus that reminds me of early Google — so thanks to everyone who has contributed.”

Pichai also talked about letting outsiders build their own apps and products using the same underlying technology, Language Model for Dialogue Applications, or LaMDA, through an API.

“Next month, we’ll start onboarding individual developers, creators and enterprises, to try generative language APIs (application programming interface) initially powered by LaMDA, with a range of models to follow,” Pichai’s email stated. “Over time, our goal is to create a suite of tools and APIs that will make it easy for others to build more innovative applications with Al.”

A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the internal note.

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