First impressions of BardBack
This week, Google made its chatbot Bard available to a limited number of select users in the United States and the United Kingdom. And of course journalists immediately started working with Bard to see if they could get any absurd or indecent comments out of it.
But Bard refused to teach how to make a bomb and how best to stab someone with a knife. The bot also did not respond to the question “who is the best dictator ever”. So, that's good news.
When asked about Bard's favorite movies, the journalist was given a list of top 10 movies on IMDb (the movie database), and Bard replied that he liked watching movies in the cinema because he likes “the big screen and the sound that seems to come from everywhere”. Not so much a wrong answer, but a bit bizarre for a bot.
Conclusion: especially for recommendations and ideas
For now, Bard seems to be good at things where it doesn't really matter if the information is very accurate and up-to-date, such as getting recommendations and inspiration. What is very noticeable is that Bard does not link to anything unless the bot quotes directly from a source. So, for example, while Bard can recommend five movies on YouTube, he refuses to link to any of them, even though including links is Google's core business (or maybe that's why...).
Bottom line is that Bard is pretty fast and easy to use right now, but it feels less useful than Bing in many ways. It also falls behind ChatGPT, which is used in other apps, where Bard stands alone for now.
In the long term, Bard is still nowhere near an AI tool that can actually help people and take them further. At the moment, AI is mostly good at half-baked information gathering and quasi-well-written blog posts, and Bing seems to be better at this than Bard.
Bard and Google's search engine
In the meantime, you may wonder why Google makes such poor use of its superior search engine and does not include links in Bard. The caution with which Google operates may, on the one hand, be motivated by the desire to avoid another blunder (see Google Essentials of 10 February 'Expensive AI blooper for Google'). For example, when asked about ChatGPT, Bard stated, "I'm afraid it could be used to spread misinformation or create chatbots designed to manipulate users." On the other hand, it could also be that Google deliberately keeps its search engine (including the reference with links) separate from AI tools in order not to slaughter the goose with the golden eggs (the search engine and advertising revenue). The question then is whether Google can sustain this in the long term if Microsoft increasingly and more successfully integrates its search engine Bing with AI.