Shares of Google parent Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) jumped more than 4% Thursday as the company announced it is expanding the availability of its generative AI-powered chatbot Bard to more countries and adding additional features to the software.
According to Google, Bard is now available in more than 40 languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish, and it is being rolled out to regions including Brazil and Europe.
Google’s Bard, like Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, is a chatbot designed to provide users with conversational responses to queries ranging from how many feet are in a mile to summaries of classic novels.
Google says the bot will now allow users to adjust the tone of responses they receive, such as by making them sound more formal or less formal, and be able to play answers to requests out loud. Audio responses, the company says, are available in more than 40 languages.
Beyond those updates, Bard users will also be able to pin and rename conversations so that they can save and return to them over time, and more easily share responses with friends and family. The app will also now allow users to export types of code written in Python to Replit and Google Colab.
Perhaps most interesting is Google’s decision to allow users to import images into Bard, so you’ll be able to ask the bot questions about or get a summary of what Bard sees.
Google’s Bard is separate from the company’s Search Generative Experience, which is an experimental version of Google Search that provides users with AI-generated responses to their search requests.
Bard and Bing are competing against more traditional means of searching for content online. And as generative AI technology becomes more responsive and accurate, there’s little reason to doubt the apps will overtake standard search offerings.
But experts and AI researchers say the technology could lead to the spread of disinformation and misinformation. On Tuesday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates raised a number of concerns about AI in an op-ed, though, he added that fears of the technology are no different than those we've seen with other major technological breakthroughs, including the internet.
Google's announcement also comes a day after Bloomberg published an article calling out Google for using third-party moderators to vet Bard's responses. Those workers, which are employed by firms like Accenture, are reportedly paid $14 an hour to work under stressful conditions determining if the bot's answers are accurate on a broad range of topics.
How quickly the company can improve on its products and cut down on erroneous responses, however, will also determine how soon users will begin using them as replacements for their old search engines.