- By Shiona McCallum
- Tech Journalist
July 13, 2023
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is rolling out its artificial intelligence chatbot Bard in Europe and Brazil.
This is the product’s biggest expansion since its March launch in the US and UK and strengthens the rivalry with Microsoft’s ChatGPT.
Both are examples of generative AI that can answer questions in a human-like way.
Bard’s launch in the EU had been delayed after the bloc’s main data regulator raised privacy concerns.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said the tech giant had not provided enough information about how its generative AI tool protects the privacy of Europeans to warrant an EU launch.
The company said it has since met with the watchdogs to reassure them about issues around transparency, choice and control.
In a briefing with reporters, Amar Subramanya, Bard’s vice president of engineering, added that users can opt out of having their data collected.
Mr Subramanya declined to say whether there were any plans to develop a Bard app.
“Bard is an experiment,” he said. “We want to be bold and responsible.”
The bard can speak
Google also added new features to Bard that apply worldwide.
These include the ability for the chatbot to tell you its answers and respond to prompts which also include images.
“Starting today, you can collaborate with Bard in more than 40 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, German, Hindi and Spanish,” said Jack Krawczyk, senior product manager at Google, in a blog post.
“Sometimes hearing something out loud can help you approach your idea in a different way. This is especially useful if you want to hear the correct pronunciation of a word or listen to a poem or script.”
He said users can now change the tone and style of Bard’s responses to simple, long, short, professional or casual.
They can also pin or rename conversations, export code to more places, and use images in prompts.
Wave of investment
The hype surrounding generative AI capabilities has prompted global tech figures to call for a halt to their development.
Depending on who you talk to, AI could either bring about the end of humanity, or solve climate change, or both.
Over the past six months, companies have invested billions in hopes of generating significantly more ad and cloud revenue.
Mistral AI, a month-old start-up, secured £86m in seed funding to build and train large language models.
Mr Musk has previously said he believes AI developments should be halted and the sector needs regulation.
Elsewhere, American artificial intelligence company Anthropic has launched another ChatGPT rival chatbot called Claude 2, which can summarize novel-sized blocks of text.
Claude 2 is publicly available in the US and UK and uses a security method described by the company as “Constitutional AI”, referring to a set of principles for making judgments about the text it produces.
Still, the appeal of novelty in AI chatbots may be diminishing, with recent web user figures showing that monthly traffic to the ChatGPT website and unique visitors fell for the first time in June.
Google has also been the subject of a new class action lawsuit in the United States over the alleged misuse of users’ personal information to form Bard.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco by eight people seeking to represent millions of internet users and copyright owners, said Google’s unauthorized scraping of website data violated their privacy and their property rights.
“Google doesn’t own the internet, it doesn’t own our creative works, it doesn’t own our expressions of our personalities, photos of our families and children, or anything else just because we share them online. line,” plaintiffs’ attorney Ryan Clarkson said. said in a statement.