Google will trial its own artificial intelligence chatbot to prepare it for public release “in the coming weeks”, the chief executive of its parent company Alphabet has announced.
The chatbot, called Bard, will compete with the popular Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, which launched in November.
It comes as Microsoft on Tuesday is expected to announce ChatGPT’s integration into its search engine, Bing.
Google has also said search engine users will be able to benefit from the technology behind Bard, which allows for more complex questions to be given straightforward answers.
Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post on Monday that it will first open the AI service to its testers before launching it publicly in a few weeks’ time.
“We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety, and groundedness in real-world information,” Mr Pichai said.
Google’s AI-driven chatbot will run off the back of LaMDA, which is a large language model. It attracted widespread controversy when a Google software engineer claimed it was “sentient”, a view that has been widely rebutted by other experts.
Such language models digest huge amounts of text to learn how to respond to text-based queries.
ChatGPT drew excitement around the world only a few months ago with its ability to pass exams, write poems and even job applications.
“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence, and creativity of our large language models,” Mr Pichai said.
He said Bard’s planned integration into Google would help people turning to the search engine “for deeper insights and understanding”.
“AI can be helpful in these moments, synthesizing insights for questions where there’s no one right answer,” he said.
The move marks the start of a race between the largest tech companies, with Microsoft announcing a multibillion-dollar investment in the company behind ChatGPT, OpenAI, last month.
Google has not explained how Bard will differ from ChatGPT. Mr Pichai said the new chatbot would draw on information from the internet, while its competitor's knowledge is up to date as of 2021.