Remember the sensational claim made in mid-2022 that Google’s AI chatbot had gained some degree of so-called sentience, leading to an engineer being fired and some heated debates about whether machine sentience will even be possible at any point in the near future? That claim was made about Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications, more commonly referred to as LaMDA, the artificial intelligence that will power Google’s newly announced Bard chatbot. Pichai explains in a Google blog post that the company has been working on Bard for an unspecified duration following the introduction of LaMDA a couple of years ago, and while it’s not yet ready to be unleashed on the masses, it is being opened up to “trusted testers.”
The odds are high that you’re not one of those testers, but that doesn’t seem to matter much, as Pichai goes on to explain that Google will make the conversational AI “more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.” What can you expect when it finally arrives? Put simply, it looks like Bard will function as Google Search, if Google Search were inherently intelligent enough to digest the mass of information written and shared by humans, and then produce from it a summary, explanation, creation, or suggestion without any actual input from them.
That’s an exciting and frightening prospect, though Google insists it will be deploying its technology in a “bold and responsible way,” with the features rolling out “soon” on Google Search. The company is initially using a lightweight version of LaMDA that, according to Google, puts fewer demands on the hardware powering it and therefore makes it possible to launch it in a broader way.