Google’s Bard AI has found itself at the center of controversy again, this time over allegations that the Bing rival was trained using data pulled from OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
As you may be aware, ChatGPT is the power behind the throne of Bing AI, and the accusation of nefarious activities behind the scenes comes from a report by The Information (opens in new tab).
We’re told that Jacob Devlin, a software engineer at Google – an ex-engineer, we might add, having departed the firm over this affair – claims that Google used ChatGPT data (scraped from the ShareGPT website, apparently) to develop Bard.
Devlin notes that he warned Google against doing so, as this clearly went against OpenAI’s terms of service.
According to the report, Google ceased using the mentioned data after the warnings from Devlin (who left Google to join OpenAI, we’re informed).
Google denies any of this, though. A company spokesperson, Chris Pappas, told The Verge (opens in new tab): “Bard is not trained on any data from ShareGPT or ChatGPT.”
Analysis: A denial amid some desperation
There we have it, then – a clear denial from Google in no uncertain terms that nothing underhand was going on data-wise with Bard. And to be fair, there’s certainly no evidence that Bard’s answers are remotely like the ones given by ChatGPT. (Devlin had further warned that the alleged data hoovering could mean just that, and it’d be obvious enough what had gone on as a result).
We suppose the trouble with this episode is that it very much feels like Google has rushed Bard to release – dropping clangers while doing so – as it was forced to play catchup with Microsoft’s Bing AI. Given that the latter is now successfully pushing search engine adoption to Bing, already at this early stage, all this could make it easy enough for some to believe that Google might be getting a bit desperate with tactics behind the scenes.
Whether or not the tale about poached data is true – we’ll take Google’s word that it isn’t – the report still makes an interesting revelation that Google’s Brain AI group is now working with AI firm DeepMind (both of these existing under the Alphabet umbrella, the parent company).
DeepMind has seemingly been recruited into the mix to swiftly hone and power up Bard, and it’s notable because the two AI outfits are big rivals and are very much being forced to collaborate on this.
This again sketches a picture of a rather desperate scramble to get Bard steadier on its feet, while Microsoft’s Bing AI keeps getting updated with new features at a fair old rate of knots. (Although fresh rumblings about one of the potential next ‘features’ for the Bing chatbot have us very concerned, it has to be said).
You may also recall alarm bells being rung on the privacy front when Bard itself made an apparent revelation that it used internal Gmail data for training, again prompting Google to tell us that this is not the case and that the bot got things wrong. Bard getting things wrong, of course, is very much part of a bigger issue.