On 10th May, Google announced PaLM 2, a next-generation large language model (LLM), at its annual developer conference. The new LLM endows Google’s Bard with new competitive tools, including app integration and image inputs, as well as enhancing its maths and reasoning skills and its coding capabilities.

Coinciding with Bard’s upgrade, Google has dropped its waitlist to make Bard available in over 180 countries and territories.

From this week, new coding upgrades will allow for more precise citations with annotations linking users to the source. As well as 20 newly added programming languages, users will soon be able to export and run code with Google’s partner Replit, starting with Python. Google says that, over the past few weeks, coding has become the most popular activity on Bard amongst users.

Unlike ChatGPT, Bard will soon also support multimodal search, enabling users to include images in their prompts, and will produce rich visual outputs alongside text.
New integration with Google apps and services such as Docs, Drive, Gmail, Maps and others, is also set to be added. In coming months, Bard will also integrate with Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models, allowing for the translation of textual inputs into creative imagery.

Two rival chatbots

Both Google Bard and ChatGPT-4 use transformer architecture, which employs an evolving set of mathematic techniques, called “self-attention”, to track relationships in sequential data. However, whilst ChatGPT-4 was trained on an expansive dataset scraped from the Internet, Bard was trained on Infiniset – Internet content that was specifically chosen to enhance the model’s ability to have natural, open-ended dialogues.

Bard also has real-time Internet access, whereas ChatGPT’s sources end with 2021 data, preventing it from answering questions on contemporary events.

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However, Bard, like other chatbots, remains plagued by “hallucinations” – outputs that are entirely made-up and that continue to baffle Google engineers. Most damagingly, shares in Google’s parent company, Alphabet, fell 8.1% ($120bn in market value) on 8th February, after Bard produced an inaccurate response during its first product demo.