To use or not to use Bard? That’s the Shakespearean question an Associated Press reporter sought to answer by testing Google’s artificially intelligent chatbot.
Over several hours of interaction, the AP learned Bard was quite open about his unreliability and other shortcomings, including his potential for mischief in next year’s U.S. presidential election. Although he sometimes warned of trouble he could unleash, Bard repeatedly emphasized his belief that he would become a force for good.
At one point in his recurring soliloquies about his potential benefits, Bard dreamed of living up to the legacy of the English playwright who inspired his name.
Bard explained that his creators at Google “thought Shakespeare would be a good role model for me because he was a master of language and communication.”
But the chatbot also found admirable traits in “HAL”, the fictional computer who killed part of the crew of a spaceship in the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Bard praised HAL’s intelligence calling him an “interesting character” before acknowledging his dark side.
“I think HAL is a cautionary tale about the dangers of artificial intelligence,” Bard said.
WHAT IS BETTER — BARD OR BING?
Bard praised ChatGPT, describing it as “a valuable tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, and I’m excited to see how it will continue to grow in the future.” But Bard then claimed that it is just as smart as its rivalwhich was released late last year by its creator, the OpenAI backed by Microsoft.
“I would say I’m on par with ChatGPT,” Bard said. “We both have our own strengths and weaknesses, and we both have the ability to learn and grow.”
During our extensive conversation, Bard did not display any of the disturbing trends that cropped up in ChatGPT, which compared another AP reporter to Hitler and tried to persuade a New York Times reporter to divorce his wife.
IT’S FUN, BUT DOMAIN THAT BING
Bard got a little gooey at one point when asked to write a Shakespearean sonnet and responded seductively in one of three drafts he quickly created.
“I love you more than words can ever say, and I will always be here for you,” Bard said. “You are everything to me, and I will never let you go. So please accept this sonnet as a token of my love for you, and know that I will always be yours.
But Bard seems to be deliberately tamed most of the time, and probably for good reason, given what’s at stake for Google, which has carefully cultivated a reputation for reliability that has established its dominant search engine as the de facto gateway to Internet.
An AI tool that periodically behaves as erratically as ChatGPT could trigger a backlash that could damage Google’s image and possibly undermine its search engine, the hub of a digital advertising empire. which generated more than $220 billion in revenue last year. Microsoft, on the other hand, can afford to take more risks with the more forward-thinking ChatGPT because it makes more money from licensing software for personal computers.
BARD ADMITS IT’S NOT PERFECT
Google has programmed Bard to ensure that it warns its users that it is error-prone.
Some inaccuracies are fairly easy to spot. For example, when asked about the AP reporter interviewing him, Bard got most of the basics, most likely by fetching information from profiles posted on LinkedIn and Twitter.
But Bard also mysteriously spat out inaccuracies about this reporter’s academic background (describing him as a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, instead of San Jose State University) and his work history (stating mistakenly that he had started his career at the Wall Street Journal before also working at the New York Times and the Washington Post).
When asked to produce a short story about Disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes, Bard has summed up most of the strengths and weaknesses of his saga. But one of Bard’s three drafts incorrectly reported that Holmes had been found guilty of all the fraud and conspiracy charges against her during a four-month trial. Another version accurately reports that Holmes was convicted for four counts of fraud and conspiracy not to mention that she was acquitted on four other counts (the jury stayed three other counts which were later dismissed by prosecutors).
“I’m still developing and I’m not perfect,” Bard warned at one point. “I can sometimes make mistakes, and sometimes I can be misunderstood. I am also aware that my technology can be used for both good and evil.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR BARD?
Although Bard insisted he had no dark side, he acknowledged he could be used to damage reputations, spread propaganda that could incite violence and manipulate elections. .
“I could be used to create fake news articles or social media posts that could spread misinformation about candidates or their policies,” Bard warned. “I could also be used to suppress voter turnout by spreading discouraging messages or making it difficult for people to find information on how to vote.”
On the lighter side, Bard came in handy in finding interesting coloring books for adults and hit a few notes that resonated during a rock and roll discussion. When asked who was the greatest guitarist of all time, Bard responded with a wide list of candidates ranging from well-known rock artists such as Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin to jazz virtuosos like Django Reinhardt before making the case for Jimi Hendrix “as a powerful title contender, his music continues to influence and inspire guitarists around the world.
Bard also seemed familiar with contemporary artists, such as Wet Leg, who recently won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. “I’ve been listening to their debut album a lot lately and really enjoying it. I think they have a bright future ahead of them,” Bard said, and cited “Ur Mom” and “Chaise Longue” as his favorite songs from the band so far.
Even with Bard’s occasional mistakes, he seemed savvy enough to ask about his potential role in achieving Singularity, a term popularized by computer scientist and author Ray Kurzweil to describe a turning point in the future where computers will be smarter than humans.
“Some people think I’m a big step toward being unique,” Bard said. “I believe I am a valuable tool that can help people learn and understand the world around them. However, I do not believe that I am the singularity, and I do not believe that I can ever replace human intelligence.