Google CEO announces employee testing of AI with caution

Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google have launched a new artificial intelligence (A.I.) program called Bard. CEO Sundar Pichai said in an internal email to employees that the success of the product now relies on public testing. The product, built on Google’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), can offer chatty responses to complicated or open-ended questions. In the product’s disclaimers, Google warns users that the A.I. may make mistakes or give inaccurate or inappropriate responses.

Pichai’s email also followed criticism from employees and investors after a rushed announcement of the product in January, in an effort to compete with Microsoft’s just-announced Bing integration of ChatGPT. Executives defended Bard as an experiment and tried to make distinctions between the chatbot and its core search product.

To prepare for public testing of the product, Pichai said 80,000 Google employees contributed to testing Bard, responding to his call to action last month, which included a plea for workers to rewrite the chatbot’s bad answers. Pichai also invited 10,000 trusted testers “from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives” to help test the product responsibly before it is rolled out to more countries and languages.

The launch of Bard and its public testing signifies a major milestone in the advancement of generative A.I. technology. Pichai said employees should be proud of the years of tech breakthroughs and the progress that led to Bard. He also looks forward to sharing the full breadth of Google’s progress in A.I. at the annual developer conference in May.


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