Google Unveils Major AI Upgrades, Integrations for Bard

Bard Extensions Allow Integration with Google Apps

Google announced several major upgrades and new capabilities for Bard, its conversational AI system, including integration with Google’s productivity apps, easier ways to fact-check responses, and expanded language support. The improvements aim to make Bard more useful in day-to-day tasks while addressing concerns around misinformation.

The most significant addition is Bard Extensions, which allows the AI assistant to directly pull information from Google services like Gmail, Docs, Maps and YouTube. For example, Bard can now automatically import relevant dates from email when planning a trip, find documents from Drive to summarize, or embed Maps directions and YouTube videos in its responses.

This integration allows for a more seamless experience, rather than having to copy and paste information between services. Google says user data will not be viewable by human reviewers or used for advertising or training purposes without consent. Users can toggle Extensions on and off.

New “Google It” Feature Checks Bard’s Accuracy

To combat false or misleading information, Google has introduced a new “Google it” feature. Users can click a button to have Bard evaluate its own responses against what it finds on the wider web. Any phrases with substantiating or contradicting information will be highlighted to make verification easier.

Bard will also allow users to build on conversations shared via public links, enabling collaborative brainstorming. For instance, someone could share ideas from a Bard chat, then others could ask followup questions to further develop those thoughts.

Upgraded AI Model Makes Bard More Capable

On the technical side, Google has updated Bard’s underlying AI model to make it more imaginative, intuitive and capable of higher quality responses. Dubbed PaLM 2, it incorporates the latest techniques like reinforcement learning. Google says this upgrade makes Bard better at creative collaboration, coding help, and conversing across multiple languages.

Previously available only in English, features like image uploads, search image results and response modifications have now expanded to over 40 languages. The “Google it” verification tool and Bard Extensions currently remain English-only.

Google Taking Cautious Approach to Bard Rollout

This gradual expansion shows Google’s cautious approach as it works to improve Bard’s accuracy and usefulness. The announcement comes just months after Bard’s botched public launch, in which it provided inaccurate information that wiped out $100 billion in Google’s market value.

While far from perfect, Google hopes these ongoing upgrades will help Bard live up to its potential as a beneficial AI assistant rather than a harmful misinformation machine. The improvements align with CEO Sundar Pichai’s vision of an AI that augments human abilities and is worthy of user trust.

With Google Maps, Gmail and Docs boasting billions of users, integration with these services provides Bard huge amounts of data to tap into. Rival chatbots like Microsoft’s Bing or the viral ChatGPT lack such tight integration with productivity tools, giving Bard an advantage.

But questions remain around Bard’s real-world usefulness and safety. Fact checking via Search is helpful, but far from foolproof. Blindly generating Docs pages from prompts risks plagiarism and inaccuracy. Nonetheless, Google’s embrace of AI as core to its products continues apace. The tech giant is betting big that AI like Bard will play a major role in our online lives.

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