Move over ChatGPT, Google Bard is Gaining Traction

Move over ChatGPT, Google Bard is Gaining Traction

By Staff Writer, 20 August 2023

Last November, OpenAI unveiled its brainchild, ChatGPT to great hype and clamour. ChatGPT mesmerized the global community, amassing a staggering 100 million users within just its first two months. To put that into context, it took TikTok nine months to grow its audience to that size; it took Instagram two years and six months before reaching that milestone. 

As an aside, the only app to supersede ChatGPT’s growth trajectory was Threads, which achieved 100 million users in its first 5 days – but the latest numbers indicate that the app has struggled to maintain active users. In July 2023, Threads lost 80% of its users, dropping from 50 million daily active users to less than 10 million daily active users by the end of the month. Meanwhile, ChatGPT still has over 100 million users today, and the website generated 1.6 billion visits in the month of June 2023.

ChatGPT was not just a blip on the radar; it has heralded a new era. While its novelty undoubtedly acted as the initial siren song, the true testament to its’ might lay in its multifaceted utility. From assisting flustered programmers in navigating a maze of codes to inspiring writers with eloquent prose and occasionally amusing curious minds with quirky responses, ChatGPT became the jack of many trades. The digital town was abuzz, and OpenAI reaped both admiration and invaluable feedback to fine-tune their prodigious creation.

But with great power comes great responsibility, and ChatGPT's staggering popularity has presented its own set of challenges and a new layer of ethical questions for the world to ponder. To accommodate and serve its growing user base, OpenAI implemented a $20 monthly subscription. But on the ethical frontier, as AI chatbots become increasingly embedded in our daily lives, the risks grow in tandem. Misinformation, skewed advice, and over-reliance on AI are some of the challenges we grapple with today. In fact, the debate over AI's role in education has heated up to the point that several schools have banned ChatGPT, fearing AI-written homework and plagiarism.

But in the sprawling digital landscape, shadows of competitors also loom. Enter Google's contender: Bard.

Emanating from the tech giant's arsenal, Bard didn't step into the arena unnoticed in March 2023. Its introduction was a clear proclamation of Google's aspirations to have a share of the AI chatbot bounty. Bard, backed by Google's formidable infrastructure, beckoned with the promise of perhaps a more nuanced or diverse engagement. In its first week of operations, Google claimed Bard had over 30 million registered users. In April, 206.7 million ChatGPT unique visitors generated 1.76 billion site visits; while in the same month, Google’s Bard attracted 49.7 million unique visitors. The more than 4X gap was made up for significantly in May, when Bard attracted 142.6 million visitors. Bard still lags, but is certainly keeping pace.

So How do they stack up?

Both ChatGPT and Bard promise sophisticated, human-like text generation, but their methods and applications do diverge and have considerably different flavors. Here's a detailed breakdown: 

1. Data Sources and Training:

ChatGPT: Trained on GPT-3 and GPT-4 (for paid subscribers), ChatGPT leverages an extensive dataset which includes Common Crawl, Wikipedia, books, and more, but its knowledge halts at 2021. For current events, ChatGPT Plus utilizes Bing search, but even that isn’t completely reliant for recent news. 

Google Bard: Using the PaLM 2 model, Bard benefits from real-time Google Search results. Its training data, Infiniset, covers Common Crawl, Wikipedia, and dialogues from the web. This real-time capability, especially, makes Bard a potent research assistant.

2. Pricing and Access:

ChatGPT: Free for general use, while ChatGPT Plus comes at $20/month, offering enhanced features and access to GPT-4. 

Google Bard: Free for users with access, offering most of its robust features without a price tag. 

3. User Interface and Experience:

ChatGPT: Offers a historical view of all interactions, facilitating sharing and collaboration between users. This feature especially stands out for those wanting to revisit or share conversations.

Bard: Definitely has an edge here. It boasts a sleek interface, the ability to edit questions post-submission, and provides multiple answer options. Additionally, integration with Google Workspace allows for easy export of information to Gmail or Google Docs.

4. Purpose and Strengths:

ChatGPT: Serves as a multifaceted writing tool, with prowess in generating text. While it can be used as a research assistant, its strengths lie in content creation, making it an asset for writers, marketers, and content creators. 

Bard: Primarily a research tool, Bard efficiently mines the most pertinent information from Google and concisely presents it. Its capacity to offer images for visual context further boosts its research capabilities.

5. Web Browsing Capabilities:

ChatGPT: The paid version can browse the web through Bing, although this feature faced some temporary issues recently. The browsing experience is generally perceived as slower and less intuitive compared to Bard. 

Bard: Integrates seamlessly with Google Search, quickly retrieving up-to-date information and summarizing key data.

6. Accuracy and Logic:

Both chatbots can stumble on logic questions, underscoring the importance of human oversight. While both Bard and ChatGPT are adept at summarizing vast amounts of information, both can "hallucinate" or provide inaccurate details. There are sob stories and horror stories out there of people putting too much reliance or faith into these still young and learning machines. 

7. Summarizing Abilities: 

ChatGPT: Can provide detailed summaries with nuanced information, especially when explicitly directed.

Bard: Excels in digesting and presenting information in a concise manner. When provided with an article link, Bard offers a neatly bulleted summary.

8. Integrations and Plugins:

While Bard's integration with Google Workspace is notable, ChatGPT boasts a wide array of plugins, enhancing its functionality in various domains, from travel to content creation. 

9. User Engagement: 

According to Cyber Haven and as of June 2023, Google Bard seems to be lagging behind as its usage stats only mirror those of ChatGPT back in January this year. It’s understandable that ChatGPT may have had the advantage of minimal competition having been one of the few AI chatbots for quite some time before others hit the scene, but comparative data also shows that ChatGPT's user session duration currently averages at 8.44 minutes, while Google Bard registers 3.19 minutes, suggesting a likely higher user satisfaction with ChatGPT compared to Bard. 

Final Words

It seems choosing between ChatGPT and Bard boils down to one's specific needs. For dynamic research and a user-friendly experience, Bard seems to be becoming a top pick, while for content generation, brainstorming, and a plethora of plugins, ChatGPT is unmatched. 

However, while these two lock horns in the digital coliseum, the tech world is already buzzing with anticipation for the next big entrant. Elon Musk recently teased the development of xAI, a new AI system that promises not just to interact but to seek the very nature of the universe. As Musk ventures into this AI frontier with the goal of creating a "maximum truth-seeking AI," it’s clear that the chatbot saga is just beginning. The stage is set, the players are ready, and the audience—well, we’re waiting with bated breath.

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