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Google CEO Sundar Pichai asks employees to put two to four hours into helping to improve and 'dogfood' its Bard chatbot

Thomas Maxwell,Hugh Langley   

Google CEO Sundar Pichai asks employees to put two to four hours into helping to improve and 'dogfood' its Bard chatbot
  • Google this week began companywide internal testing of Bard, its AI chatbot for search.
  • In a memo, CEO Sundar Pichai has asked all employees to spend 2-4 hours helping test the product.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai sent an internal memo to Googlers on Wednesday asking them to contribute 2-4 hours of their time this week to helping improve Bard, the company's AI chatbot that it intends to integrate into search.

The email, which was reviewed by Insider, signals Google's urgency in moving to win the next generation of AI-based search. The company has found itself on its back foot as Microsoft took the spotlight for its investment in OpenAI. OpenAI created the popular ChatGPT, a chatbot released in late 2022 which can respond to broad, open-ended questions with human-like answers. Last week, Microsoft unveiled a revamped version of its Bing search engine with ChatGPT, and CEO Satya Nadella called it a "new day" for search.

"I know this moment is uncomfortably exciting, and that's to be expected: the underlying technology is evolving rapidly with so much potential," Pichai wrote in his memo to Googlers. "The most important thing we can do right now is to focus on building a great product and developing it responsibly."

Google began "dogfooding" Bard on Tuesday, and already has thousands of external and internal testers using it, submitting feedback regarding the quality, safety, and "groundedness" of Bard's responses.

Last week, the company suffered some reputational damage after a demo of Bard showed it providing an incorrect response to a question about the James Webb Space Telescope. The stock declined more than 9% in the day after the mistake got attention, and Alphabet's chairman John Hennessy said that Google was hesitant to use Bard in a product as it was not "really ready," according to reporting by CNBC.

Google has dealt with internal turmoil in past years over its AI initiatives, as some employees feared the technology was not ready and could lead to harm, like the spread of bias or misinformation. At the same time, data and user feedback is an advantage for Google as it helps further improve responses in its AI systems.

"AI has gone through many winters and springs," Pichai concluded. "And now it's blooming again. As an AI-first company, we've been working towards this for many years and are ready for it."




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