Google Bard Begins To Slowly Rollout - Citations, Limitations & Early Access

Mar 22, 2023 - 7:51 am 28 by
Filed Under Google

Google Bard 640

Yesterday, Google began to slowly roll out Google Bard to some initial reporters and also Google opened up a waitlist to users in the US and UK. I personally gained access to Bard after writing most of this article but I did gain access to Bard yesterday at 1pm ET. But you can sign up for the waitlist at bard.google.com (it does not yet work with Google WorkSpace accounts).

Below you will find out more information on how Bard looks, how it works, how the citations/sources work, limitations, early impressions and more. There is a lot here - and it is super early.

My early impressions is that Google is clearly positioning Bard to be very different from Google Search. In addition, Google is also making sure Bard feels and works differently than Bing Chat. Bing Chat, to me, feels way more thought out in terms of the user experience and all the tiny details in how it works with Bing Search. Google is making it super clear right now that Bard is not Search and only putting a "Google It" button in the Bard results so that you are taken out of Bard and into Search.

Bard does not do a lot of what Bing Chat and ChatGPT does but Bard is way faster. Bard has no ads, Bing Chat does have ads. Bard rarely show citations/links, Bing Chat shows citations and links in a much more prominent way. Bard and Bing Chat are just very different, while being similar in purpose.

Bard is Google's experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA, where Google can answer questions that might not have one right answer. Google said, "Bard is powered by a research large language model (LLM), specifically a lightweight and optimized version of LaMDA, and will be updated with newer, more capable models over time. It’s grounded in Google's understanding of quality information. You can think of an LLM as a prediction engine. When given a prompt, it generates a response by selecting, one word at a time, from words that are likely to come next. Picking the most probable choice every time wouldn’t lead to very creative responses, so there’s some flexibility factored in. We continue to see that the more people use them, the better LLMs get at predicting what responses might be helpful." In short, it will get better over time, so don't be too harsh on Google...

As a reminder, Google said Bard is not Search we have quotes from Google's Bard lead who said, "It's an experiment that's a collaborative AI service that we talked about," Krawczyk said. "The magic that we're finding in using the product is really around being this creative companion to helping you be the sparkplug for imagination, explore your curiosity, etc." But he added, "we can't stop users from trying to use it like search."

What Bard Looks Like

Here are some screenshots and videos of Bard from Google:

click for full size

Google Bard2

Google Bard3

Citations/Links to Publishers Are Hard To Come By

It is hard to find sources, citations and links in Google Bard but they do come up if you try hard enough. Gary Illyes from Google did say publishers will get traffic from Bard, maybe that is what he meant when we see the "Google it" button in Bard?

I asked Areej Abuali and Billie Geena - who has access already, and she was unable to find Bard giving any links to any source. But some, including in my tests, were able to see some sources and links. Google Bard also has a "Google it" button...

If you really work hard to get a citation, you kind of do but not link:

And sometimes not:

When I gained access, I asked Bard why exactly it refused to give sources and citations, it said:

I cannot show you the URL of where I came up with this answer because I did not come up with this answer from a specific URL. I am trained on a massive dataset of text and code, including the Google Search index. This allows me to access and process information from the real world through Google Search and keep my response consistent with search results.

Oh wait, maybe you can force a link if you try hard enough and specific enough but this is not good enough:

Just not the best experience:

Here is why Google Bard is less likely to provide citations, "Bard is trained on a massive dataset of text and code, and it can be difficult to determine which sources were used to generate a particular answer."

Early Impressions

The folks at The Verge played with Bard in a limited way and they said:

In a demo for The Verge, Bard was able to quickly and fluidly answer a number of general queries, offering anodyne advice on how to encourage a child to take up bowling (“take them to a bowling alley”) and recommending a list of popular heist movies (including The Italian Job, The Score, and Heist). Bard generates three responses to each user query, though the variation in their content is minimal, and underneath each reply is a prominent “Google It” button that redirects users to a related Google search.

Bard’s interface is festooned with disclaimers to treat its replies with caution

As with ChatGPT and Bing, there’s also a prominent disclaimer underneath the main text box warning users that “Bard may display inaccurate or offensive information that doesn’t represent Google’s views” — the AI equivalent of “abandon trust, all ye who type here.”

As expected, then, trying to extract factual information from Bard is hit-and-miss. Although the chatbot is connected to Google’s search results, it couldn’t fully answer a query on who gave the day’s White House press briefing (it correctly identified the press secretary as Karine Jean-Pierre but didn’t note that the cast of Ted Lasso was also present). It was also unable to correctly answer a tricky question about the maximum load capacity of a specific washing machine, instead inventing three different but incorrect answers. Repeating the query did retrieve the correct information, but users would be unable to know which was which without checking an authoritative source like the machine’s manual.

Billie Geena gained access to Bard right away, here are some of her tweets:

Areej Abuali said OpenAI's ChatGPT beats Google Bard in her early tests:

Some more tweets in the wild:

I guess Google is okay with buying links now? :-)

Local:

But Bard does not always get it right, like Google said:

Can Bard tell you if your content meets EEAT?

Here is a good comparison tweet:

And yes, Bard is a kiss up:

The most important feature:

I am looking forward to testing out Bard and letting you know what I find, until then, we wait. You can read the other coverage on this announcement on Techmeme.

Forum discussion at Twitter and WebmasterWorld.

 

Popular Categories

The Pulse of the search community

Follow

Search Video Recaps

 
Google Core Update Flux, AdSense Ad Intent, California Link Tax & More - YouTube
Video Details More Videos Subscribe to Videos

Most Recent Articles

Blog Administration

Programming Note: Offline For Passover

Apr 22, 2024 - 4:05 pm
Search Forum Recap

Daily Search Forum Recap: April 22, 2024

Apr 22, 2024 - 4:00 pm
Google Search Engine Optimization

Google: We Need Very Few Links To Rank Pages; Links Are Less Important

Apr 22, 2024 - 7:51 am
Google

Google Tests Discussion and Forums Questions With Answers Box

Apr 22, 2024 - 7:41 am
Google Search Engine Optimization

Forbes Blocks Its Coupon Directory Before Google Enforces The Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Apr 22, 2024 - 7:31 am
Google Maps

Google Tests Posts Button In Local Listing Business Profile

Apr 22, 2024 - 7:21 am
Previous Story: Bing Chat Can Make Images With Image Creator