Google (GOOG, GOOGL) launched its latest salvo in the AI wars on Tuesday, debuting a host of improvements to its Bard chatbot including integrations with the company’s Gmail, Docs, Drive, Google Flights, and YouTube services. The tech giant also announced a new means of fact-checking the chatbot’s responses to improve overall accuracy.
The updates, called Bard Extensions and double-check, are some of the biggest Google has rolled out for Bard and represent a significant step in the company’s effort to make the chatbot more useful across its collection of apps.
“For the first time, people are going to be able to integrate a language model with their personal life,” Bard product lead Jack Krawczyk told Yahoo Finance. “We're bringing the ability for you to collaborate in Bard with your Gmail with your Google Docs, with your Drive, as well as other Google services like Maps, Hotels, Flights, YouTube.”
Bard Extensions gives you the ability to use Bard to pull up specific information from your emails and documents, book flights, and search YouTube.
In one example, Krawczyk cited an example of booking a trip with friends to the Grand Canyon. He explained how you could use Bard to search for the dates your friend recommended in an email, use the bot to search for flights and hotels for those dates, and develop an itinerary for your trip.
Being able to easily pull pertinent information from your emails could prove to be a massive benefit for users. Imagine no longer having to sort through message after message in search of those dinner reservations you booked last week. Sure you could always use Gmail’s built-in search option, but let’s face it, that’s never as easy as it should be.
Bard can also go through your emails and provide you with a summary of your most important messages. Krawczyk said he uses the feature to more quickly sift through emails from his child’s preschool and easily grab forms he needs to sign or other documents he needs to review.
Other examples of Bard Extensions in action include the ability to search for hotels in Paris during the fall via Google Hotels and videos of child-friendly attractions in the city on YouTube from the chatbot.
In general, the addition of Bard Extensions is meant to make the chatbot more useful by making it easier to access multiple apps from one location.
Importantly, Krawczyk said that Google won’t use your personal information to train the public version of Bard.
“Your information is only accessed on a per prompt level,” he explained. “Bard is not storing your inbox. Bard is not storing your Google Drive. Bard is querying those things and getting the information. People have to opt into [letting Bard access your information]. At any point, you can change your mind and say, ‘I don't want Bard to be able to do that.’”
For now, Bard Extensions are only available in English and for consumer versions of the company’s apps. But Krawczyk said Google is currently working on a version for its enterprise apps.
In addition to Bard Extensions, Google announced a new double-check feature for Bard. And just as the name implies, double-check is meant to literally use Google to double-check the chatbot’s responses to users’ questions and prompts.
If, for example, you ask Bard how the Mets have performed this year, the chatbot will provide information such as statistics as well as a general summary of the team’s shortcomings. You can then click the double-check button below Bard’s response to check whether Bard’s responses are accurate or not. According to Krawczyk, the feature is meant to help detect when the chatbot is hallucinating answers and when it’s not.
When you double-check one of Bard’s responses, some parts of the chatbot’s statements will be highlighted green, others will be highlighted orange, and the rest won’t be highlighted at all. Text highlighted green means that Google was able to find information to back up Bard’s response. Orange means that Google found information that shows Bard’s response is wrong.
If text isn’t highlighted, it means that Google wasn’t able to find anything saying it is right or wrong.
Like Bard Extensions, the double-check feature is available today.