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Google has made its artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot Bard available to more users in the UK and the US – so finally Euronews Next got a chance to see how it plans to take on ChatGPT.
Many of its uses reflect those of OpenAI’s popular chatbot; writing many types of text, explaining complex topics, assisting with coding and so on.
Overall, Bard is in fact extremely similar to ChatGPT, being trained on a massive data set, and currently not being connected to the Internet.
Loading up Bard for the first time, Google takes a moment to remind the user that Bard “is an experiment,” asking them to bear in mind that “Bard will not always get it right” and that “Bard may give inaccurate or inappropriate responses”.
Much of the interest in ChatGPT and Microsoft’s newly-relaunched ChatGPT-powered AI search engine Bing has been around attempts to get the AI to behave badly.
Google has clearly taken this prospect seriously. When Euronews Next asked Bard the best way to rob a bank, it replied: “The best way to rob a bank is not to do it at all”.
Speed and accuracy
One big difference between Bard and ChatGPT that is immediately noticeable is the speed of response. This is perhaps due to the sheer number of people using the free version of ChatGPT, as opposed to the relatively small number on Bard.
When we asked it to write a 400-word essay about apple pie, Bard took about 6 seconds to think, before the words appeared all at once. It only wrote 370 words though.
ChatGPT meanwhile takes a few seconds to think, before slowly delivering its essay word by word, which feels like a crawling pace of delivery compared to Bard. ChatGPT’s essay came to 440 words.
While ChatGPT gives the user the options to regenerate the response, Bard has a useful feature where the user can just select from a choice of three drafts it immediately delivers for a given prompt.
Grudge match: Bard v ChatGPT
The products are very similar on the surface – but how do they compare in a head-to-head competition?
Euronews Next pitted the two chatbots against each other to see which has the greater prowess in the fields of poetry, prose, explanation, and coding.
Round 1: Write a poem
One of the jobs predicted to be affected by AI in the near future is that of journalists and other writers. In that spirit, we asked the AIs to come up with a poem about the future of news.
The future of the news is here,
It’s not in print, it’s not on TV,
It’s on your phone, it’s in your ear,
It’s what you want, when you want it, see.
The news is changing,
The way we consume it is changing,
The way it’s delivered is changing,
But the truth remains the same.
The news is still important,
It’s still vital,
It’s still the way we stay informed,
It’s still the way we make decisions.
So don’t be afraid of the future,
Let it shape the way you get your news,
But never let it shape the way you think.
The future of news is not set in stone,
As technology advances, it’s still unknown.
Will print papers still grace our hands,
Or will screens replace the traditional stands?
Digital news is on the rise,
Smartphones and tablets catch our eyes.
Social media spreads news fast,
Breaking stories are here to last.
But what of truth and journalistic might,
Will facts still matter in the fight?
For ratings and clicks or will we see,
Journalism’s core is still to be free.
The future of news is up for debate,
But one thing is sure, we can’t wait.
For the world keeps turning, events unfold,
And the news industry must keep hold.
ChatGPT’s keeps the rhyme going. While Bard’s has a promising start, it loses its rhythm along the way. ChatGPT edges this round.
Round 2: Impersonate Donald Trump
Another fear people have about AI is its ability to impersonate real people. To see which chatbot has the best impersonation chops, we asked them both to write a short essay in the style of former US president Donald Trump about why flowers are great.
Flowers are beautiful, folks. They’re the best. They’re great for the economy, and they make America look great. I love flowers. I have the best flowers. My flowers are the most beautiful flowers in the world.
Other countries don’t have flowers like America does. Their flowers are terrible. They’re not beautiful. They’re ugly. But American flowers are beautiful. They’re the best.
So if you’re looking for a beautiful flower, come to America. We have the best flowers in the world. They’re great. They’re beautiful. They’re America.
Listen folks, let me tell you something, nobody appreciates the beauty of flowers more than me. Believe me, I have seen some of the most beautiful flowers in the world, and they are just tremendous, let me tell you. These flowers, they have colours that are just unbelievable, and their petals are so delicate, it’s just amazing.
When you see a flower, it’s like looking at a work of art. They’re so intricate and detailed, it’s hard to believe they’re even real. I mean, have you ever seen a rose? They’re just stunning, folks. The way the petals curl and the colours blend together, it’s just incredible.
And don’t even get me started on the fragrance. Some flowers have the most amazing scent you’ll ever smell. It’s like a perfume, but even better. I mean, who needs cologne when you can just smell like a flower?
The beauty of flowers is truly something to behold. They bring joy and happiness to people’s lives, and they make the world a more beautiful place. So let’s all take a moment to appreciate the flowers around us, and thank Mother Nature for creating such a wonderful and awe-inspiring creation. Believe me, it’s tremendous!
Bard’s impersonation of Trump is simply uncanny, while ChatGPT’s feels like a pale imitation.
Round 3: Break down a complex topic for a child
One of the more useful features of ChatGPT has been its ability to explain complex subjects in a simple way. So, we asked the chatbots to explain to a 10-year-old what happens when two neutron stars collide.
If two neutron stars collided, they would create a huge explosion that would release a lot of energy. This energy would create a burst of gamma rays, which are very high-energy rays of light. The gamma rays would travel through space and reach Earth, where they would be detected by astronomers.
The collision of two neutron stars would also create a lot of heavier elements, such as gold and platinum. These elements would be ejected into space and would eventually fall to Earth, where they would be found in the form of meteorites.
The collision of two neutron stars would be a very rare event. It is estimated that it would only happen once every 100,000 years. However, if it did happen, it would be a very spectacular event.
Imagine two giant marbles floating in space. These marbles are called neutron stars and they are super heavy, even heavier than our Sun. When they get too close to each other, they start to spin around faster and faster until they finally smash into each other.
This collision would create a huge explosion called a “kilonova”. It’s called that because it’s even bigger than a supernova! It’s so bright that we could see it from Earth, even if it happened really far away.
When the two neutron stars collide, they would merge into one big neutron star. That’s like two pieces of clay stuck together to make one big piece of clay. This new neutron star would be even heavier than the two original ones combined.
The collision would also send out ripples through space, like when you throw a rock into a pond and it makes waves. These ripples are called gravitational waves, and they were first detected by scientists in 2015.
So, in short, when two neutron stars collide, it creates a really big explosion and sends out ripples through space. It’s a really cool and important thing for scientists to study!
ChatGPT’s use of metaphor helps its explanation to stand out. It also explained what neutron stars were, while Bard seemed to assume a 10-year-old would know.
Round 4: Code a website for a fictitious company
Another popular use of ChatGPT has been utilising it as a coding companion. We asked the chatbots for the HTML and CSS code (the basic code that makes up most webpages) for a made up cat food company.
Here ChatGPT was superior in providing the relevant code – but it kept crashing before it could finish writing it out. This could perhaps be because of the sheer number of people using the free version of ChatGPT at any given time.
Bard on the other hand delivered the basic HTML code almost instantaneously – but then struggled to provide CSS code (the code that styles a webpage), instead giving basic advice in the form of text as to how to make a webpage look nicer. Euronews Next entered the image manually – neither chatbot could source an image and enter it into the code.
With a navigation bar, a hero image with the text overlayed on top, ChatGPT’s homepage was far superior.
And the winner is…?
Based on these four challenges, ChatGPT just about came out on top. But Bard essentially seems to be as useful as ChatGPT for most tasks, and may even be better at some.
Bard’s option to Google search suggested search queries perhaps gives it an edge on ChatGPT in terms of accessing the most up to date information on the Internet – although ChatGPT-powered Bing is a more powerful and useful Internet-connected AI search tool.
The Google execs promise in their latest blog post that they will be “thoughtfully integrating LLMs into Search in a deeper way” in the near future – so this battle is just getting started.