During the Helpleak NEXT conference in New York on Thursday, a director stated that Google’s experimental chatbot Bard is a pathway to creating another product aimed at acquiring two billion users. Jack Krawczyk, the Product Lead, mentioned in an interview that Bard, designed to assist users in brainstorming and retrieving information through new artificial intelligence, is setting the foundation for Google to expand its customer base further.

An image is taken of a sign outside a Google office located near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, U.S., on May 8, 2019

One of the opportunities in Google’s plans is to enhance its timer-setting and command-fulfilling Google Assistant with the human-directed suggestions from Bard. Jack Krawczyk, the Product Lead, mentioned that integrating these products, initially through mobile devices in the upcoming months, will introduce AI to a broader audience.

“We believe that this opens up an entirely new avenue,” he stated.

Google’s perspective reflects its ambitions for AI within its parent company Alphabet. Alphabet currently boasts six products, including its search engine and YouTube, each attracting billions of users.

This perspective also reflects the intensifying competition. Amazon.com has committed to enhancing its Alexa assistant with a comparable generative AI, and OpenAI recently introduced voice commands and other agent-like capabilities to ChatGPT.

According to company data, Google Assistant is available on over one billion devices.

The dynamics of how consumers access information might be undergoing a transformation. In October, Bard’s web traffic experienced a 2% growth to 8.7 million, although its primary competitor, ChatGPT, demonstrated a more rapid expansion, as indicated by Similar Web data cited by Bank of America analysts on Thursday. The analysts’ note also highlighted a 0.4% decline in Google Search traffic.

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Krawczyk emphasized that his focus is on enhancing Bard’s usefulness rather than actively pursuing monetization avenues like a subscription model or advertisements, although such opportunities may arise. He noted that retention has fluctuated over time with the introduction of faster and more thoroughly checked responses.

However, Bard has encountered challenges. There were reports that it generated non-existent messages when asked to analyze content in a user’s Gmail inbox, illustrating the known tendency of AI to “hallucinate” when tasked with providing factual information.

On a Wednesday, Bard experienced difficulties when a large number of users attempted to use it simultaneously, according to Krawczyk. He mentioned that OpenAI reported a significant outage in ChatGPT on the same day. Krawczyk did not specifically name rivals but noted, “It was interesting to see behavior patterns shifting across the internet.”

He added, “We’re still learning how to most effectively accommodate large swaths of people,” describing it as a challenge “over a span of a couple of minutes.” Both Google and OpenAI stated that they have since resolved their respective issues. The surge in usage reminded Krawczyk of the challenges Google Search faced during the 2009 news of pop star Michael Jackson’s death.

Reported by Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Edited by Daniel Wallis.

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