Sparrow, Google’s answer to ChatGPT

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a technical topic get so much attention. In a few weeks, ChatGPT will have totally eclipsed the metaverse, Elon Musk and the NFTs in the specialty press.

The opening of this type of technology to the general public follows the usual steps: First, everyone is enchanted by its potential. Then we point the finger at illegitimate use; and we become a little enchanted when we see our limits. However, in the future it is likely that many professionals and individuals will use tools based on GPT-3, then GPT-4 or other assimilated models.

OpenAI technology worries Google executives

Despite its inherent limitations, ChatGPT today makes for a formidable playground, this technology. According to the New York Times, the fear is such that Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two co-founders of Google, have reinvested the premises to adjust the company’s strategy related to artificial intelligence. A remarkable return to business, initiated by Sundar Pichai himself.

The New York Times article states that this year Google intends to unveil 20 products based on artificial intelligence. The annual Google I/O conference, which takes place in May 2023, could be an opportunity to discover some of these technologies. We are talking about an image generation tool, projects around augmented shopping, video creation, but also professional software to help developers design Android applications.

Sparrow, the chatbot from DeepMind, similar to ChatGPT

ChatGPT could overshadow Google because the tool makes it possible to partially achieve what a search engine offers: access to information, structured, based on queries formulated by the Internet user in natural language. And when you see the billions injected by Microsoft into OpenAI, you can see the risks for the Mountain View company…

A chatbot named Sparrow

One of Google’s answers could lie in the development of a chatbot, named Sparrow, developed by DeepMind, the artificial intelligence subsidiary of Google’s parent company – known for AlphaGo, the computer program that beat Lee Sedol in the game of Go, or even AlphaCode, a technology , capable of writing computer code.

Last September, the company published its research on the Sparrow project. Without going into technical details, let’s say that it is a chatbot that works a bit like ChatGPT, in the sense that the machine learns from human interactions to improve the results offered.

Sparrow’s model evolves with user feedback © DeepMind

A private beta version of Sparrow in 2023

In an interview, CEO and co-founder of DeepMind, Demis Hassabis, indicates that Sparrow should arrive in private beta in 2023. Too slow response on ChatGPT? Between the lines, we see above all the caution of the manager in these matters, in light of the consequences that technologies based on artificial intelligence can have. Via a tool like ChatGPT or Sparrow, we think about misinformation, censorship, circulation of stereotypes or hateful remarks. DeepMind is thus in a delicate situation: that of accelerating its response to ChatGPT via Sparrow while limiting the biases and risks associated with AI. What a challenge, which is now one of Google’s priorities.

The differences between Sparrow and ChatGPT

Sparrow should differ from ChatGPT in several ways. In the screenshot at the top of the article, taken from documents published by DeepMind, we note in particular the indication of the sources used by the artificial intelligence. This is a key point for at least two reasons: it allows users to explore this content to go further, to verify the correctness of the information, its correct interpretation; and this could allow Google to offer fair attribution to the authors of the content.

For many years, the search engine has shown enriched and structured results, at the top of the results, to provide a direct answer to the Internet user. This has always been a sensitive topic because Google is regularly accused of appropriating the content of the sites it refers to. It started with simple answers; but it is clear that the results formatted in this way are more and more complete, even for complex queries. Thus, the integration of the sites used in Sparrow could make it possible to spare publishers who may be greatly affected if this type of service gains in popularity, while providing an appropriate and fetched response to users.

One of the limits of the current version of ChatGPT also lies in the age of its data – which stops in 2021. Google is above all a tool that crawls and indexes content. The freshness of the data can thus constitute a decisive advantage in the coming battle in this sector.

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