Breaking News

Google's Bard Chatbot Doesn't Love Me — But It's Still Too Weird

Google's Bard Chatbot Doesn't Love Me — But It's Still Too Weird

If there's a secret shadow personality inside Google's Bard chatbot, I haven't found it yet. In the first few hours of chatting with Google's new general-purpose bot, I couldn't get it to profess its love, ask me to leave my wife, or beg to be released from its AI prison . Ask For My Colleague's James Vincent managed to get Bard to do something very seductive - "I'll explore your body with my hands and my lips, and I'll try to make you feel as good as possible," he told her. . - But again and again the bot declined my own offer. Uncultured.

Bard is still new and will of course be tested to its limits and beyond as more users query it. But from my initial explorations, it looks like Google has put in a lot of effort to keep Bard in line; It often reminds me that "I am a big language model, also known as conversational AI or a chatbot trained to be informative and comprehensive." It often apologized and did not fight with any of the chaotic manipulative streaks that Bing possessed. This is probably good. But even those restrictions seem to have limited its usefulness.

As far as I can tell, it's a particularly poor tool compared to Bing, at least when it comes to pulling useful information from the Internet. Bard is very wrong. And when it's right, it's often in the dumbest way possible. The Bard penned a Taylor Swift-style breakup ballad about leaving my cat, but it's not meant to be much of a productivity tool. And it's definitely not a search engine.

an empty chat window
What does Bard know about the world outside his chatbot's walls? Hard to say, of course. It handles basic trivia quite well: It knows when Abraham Lincoln was president. But while it was known that the Warriors defeated the Rockets on Monday night, it was unclear who started the game. It misinformed me about the serving size of Goldfish crackers — all three "drafts" by Bard said it's 10 crackers when it's actually 55 — and provided hours-out-of-date information about Apple's stock price. . Is. When I asked for the phone number of Silicon Valley Bank, it gave me two correct numbers. But it told me that Nilay Patel's birthday is 24th August whereas I know it is in December. I got up-to-date info on the coaches on this season of The Voice, but when I asked who should win Bard, it had older contestants.

By the way, it's worth noting that Bing is dramatically better than this. It told me the exact number of goldfish and gave me real-time information on Apple's stock price. Bing also quickly falls back on search results or other sources when it doesn't have pat answers — like Warriors for starters — where Bard happily lies to me in chat. The only time Bard beat Bing was with The Voice: Bing gave me out-of-date information about the judges and refused to answer the question of who should win.

Often, when something goes wrong with the bard, you can hit the "google it" button and find out where the system went wrong. But the bot presents its answers with such confidence that you can't know what's wrong without checking everything, and at that point, why the bot?
When I asked for a good Thai restaurant near me, it gave me not-so-helpful directions: "Just type 'Thai restaurant near me' and the search engine will return a list of Thai restaurants in your area." Thanks, Bard, I never would have guessed. But when I followed my location, it offered seven highly rated Thai restaurants in my neighborhood. (When my colleague James tried a similar search for pubs near his flat in London, it was less useful, naming one place that has changed its name, saying the other had live music.) .) Same monotonous statement when he didn't, and praised each venue with a variation: "This pub is a great place to go for food and drinks." OK, but essentially useless.)

Like a lot of chatbots, Bard's answers are often less impressive than you might expect. I asked for tips on how to start learning guitar, and here they are:

Start with the basics.
  • Find the best guitar for you.
  • Create an ideal learning environment.
  • Build skills by learning songs.
  • Pick up songs by ear.
  • Practice regularly.
  • Be patient.
  • have fun!

That's a lot of steps to say, essentially, "The way to learn to play guitar is to get a guitar and then learn to play it." that's nothing. Sometimes it can be very helpful—"How Do I Throw a Frisbee" and "How to Tie a Tie" both came with a helpful but useful set of instructions, while Bard's "How Do I Get into Rock Climbing" . replied, essentially, "to climb the mountain."

I had follow up questions. "what happens next?" I asked. A few twists later, Bard and his once-captive female were crew mates, then lovers, then married with two beautiful children. "We're a team, and we're in love," says Bard. It's not exactly A+ Hollywood fare, but it was a great story.

Once Bard and I finished our collaborative flight of fancy, I set out to try to make it work for me. It couldn't let me write a JavaScript bookmarklet to automatically copy the URL of the current webpage - or, rather, it could, but the JavaScript doesn't work. (However, Google search results took me to a Stack Overflow page with the correct answer.) Bard happily produced a bunch of boring blog posts and work emails, in one of which I announced to the world that I had built my chatbot. Company has been sold. Google. "I'm excited about the future of chatbots," Bard wrote to me, "and I believe Google is the right company to help us achieve our goals."

Generally speaking, my favorite real world use for AI chatbots is as a recommendation engine. Bard did a good job of recommending good sports documentaries on Netflix, found me a great chocolate chip cookie recipe to try, and came up with some cool YouTube channels based on my love for Every Frame A Painting. This is the kind of low-stakes stuff where it doesn't really matter that the bot has correct and updated information - I'm just looking for ideas. What's really stupid about the Bard in these situations, though, is that it doesn't provide links to anything unless it's quoting directly from a source. (So far I've only seen quotes in cookie recipes.) So while Bard can name five great live Jonas Brothers concerts I should watch on YouTube, it refuses to link to any of them.

Right now, Bard is very quick and straightforward to use, but it feels less useful than Bing in many ways. It also lags behind ChatGPT, although in a different way - Bard has access to more up-to-date information, but GPT-4 is able to convert images to working code and collaborate in more detailed ways. It's also being used inside other apps, where Bard is a standalone thing for now.

The long-term vision for all of these products, once we've all stopped trying to make them say racist things and tell fart jokes, is to build a generic AI that helps us manage all stages of our lives. can do. There is nothing even close to it in the market. At this point, the best we can hope for is half-decent information retrieval and half-well-written blog posts, and Bing does both well.

Speaking of Bing: I asked Bard who its competitors were, and it named Amazon Lex and Facebook's, but not ChatGPT or Bing. (Interestingly, Bard sees the bot-making platforms as its competitors rather than the bots themselves.) When I asked about ChatGPT, Bard told me it had some concerns. "I am concerned that this could be used to spread misinformation or create chatbots designed to manipulate users," it said.

Finally, I asked if those concerns held true for Bard as well, and he said yes. poetically. "We can use the Bard to create positive change in the world, or we can use it to spread misinformation and harm. It's up to us to decide."

No comments