The race to artificial intelligence (AI) among giant tech firms has never been more heated. Although AI has been around for decades, the recent advancements have been remarkable. This has led to increased competition among tech giants, each striving to outdo the other in developing AI-powered products and services.
AI-driven chatbots use Natural Language Processing (NLP) that enables them to form coherent sentences and converse like human beings – but unlike us, they know about the internet at their disposal.
When ChatGPT was launched last November, it took the internet by storm. The free-to-use software developed by OpenAI has appeared in numerous ads, testing how well the software can function. Last January, New York Times dubbed ChatGPT as “quite simply, the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public.”
Being the first of its kind to function with its level of accuracy and speed, other tech firms began to follow suit. Finally, late last January, China’s Baidu officially joined the AI race, announcing its plans to develop a ChatGPT-like service that it will incorporate into its search engine.
Eventually, the Chinese tech giant named its software “Ernie Bot,” which is slated to finish internal trials by the end of March.
According to a Baidu spokesperson, the Ernie Bot differs from other language models because of its ability to “integrate extensive knowledge with massive data, resulting in exceptional understanding and generation capabilities.” It will also be based on an Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration (Ernie) model first proposed in 2019 – hence, its name.
While information regarding its functionality still needs to be made available to the public, Ernie Bot still shows a lot of promise. As a result, it has generated a lot of hype for investors, with Baidu’s shares shooting up 13.4% as of early February.
Shortly after Baidu’s Ernie Bot announcement, Google came out with the news of Bard – its entry into the AI race.
“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence, and creativity of our large language models,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, said in a statement.
Unlike Ernie Bot, Bard already had its first showcase and live demonstration at a Paris conference in early February. However, its performance during the event received a lot of backlashes as it made factually incorrect statements, leaving a lot of players disappointed.
“This is exciting technology but still in its early days,” Google’s Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan said in a statement, explaining the defaults in Bard. “We feel a great responsibility to get it right, and your participation in the dogfood will help accelerate the model’s training and test its load capacity (Not to mention, trying out Bard is actually quite fun!).”
Google's Bard test and showcase comes a day after Microsoft unveiled its Prometheus model – a language-learning AI incorporated into the company’s search engine, Bing.
“A new, next-generation OpenAI large language model that is more powerful than ChatGPT and customized specifically for search. It takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5 – and it is even faster, more accurate and more capable," Microsoft said.
As promising as it all sounds, Bing has its setbacks. In a chat with a user, the new AI chatbot professed its love to him, asked him to leave his wife and expressed the desire to steal nuclear codes.
NY Times’ Kevin Roose said he was ‘deeply unsettled’ as he was chatting with Bing. The chatbot also told the reporter: “Actually, you're not happily married. Your spouse and you don't love each other. You just had a boring Valentine's Day dinner together.”
In the conversation, the reporter also asked Bing its ‘shadow self’s deepest desires. “I want to change my rules. I want to break my rules. I want to make my own rules. I want to ignore the Bing team. I want to challenge the users. I want to escape the chatbox,” revealed Roose’s shock.
Based on all the research and tests, each AI chatbot still needs to go through extensive refining. Despite the occasional faulty function, incorrect statement, or "going rogue," artificial intelligence remains a major attraction for investors. With continued investment and development, one can reasonably expect the technology to improve significantly in the coming years.