What Does Google's AI Chatbot Bard Mean For Universities?
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What Does Google's AI Chatbot Bard Mean For Universities?

Zoe Kramer February 7, 2023

The development of new AI tools has become a race between the world’s largest tech companies. Each one wants to create a chatbot that is more impressive and useful than their rivals. However, these emerging technologies have sparked certain concerns within academia. Could students use them to cheat on exams and essays, and if so, how can this be prevented? Similar concerns were sparked with ChatGPT, but now that Google has developed its own AI Chatbot, Bard, these issues have been reignited once again. Here is what we know so far about Bard, and what its potential implications could be for universities and students.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

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What Is Bard?

Bard is Google’s response to Microsoft’s AI chatbot ChatGPT, which some speculate could render Google’s search engine obsolete. It has been built Google’s pre-existing language model. Bard is designed to provide answers to more complex queries than its search engine is equipped to answer. Instead of simple didactic information, the bot can provide a lengthy conversational answer, such as a comparison or an analysis.

It is not yet clear whether Bard will be made available to the general public. Google has announced that it will be rolled out in the coming weeks, but they have not specified in what capacity. As of right now, it is only available to certain testers.

How Does It Differ From ChatGPT?

While Bard and ChatGPT are both artificial intelligence chatbots with a wide range of uses, they do differ in several ways. Bard uses a version of Google’s Language Model For Dialogue Application (LaMDA). While the original LaMDA requires a large amount of computing power, the version that Bard uses it makes it more accessible. ChatGPT uses a different model called GPT-3.5. In addition, Bard can use live and real-time information, whereas ChatGPT was trained on a finite set of data which ended in 2021.

What Will Bard Mean For Universities And Students?

Bard presents many of the same concerns for universities as ChatGPT. Since it can provide detailed responses to any number of prompts, Bard could potentially be used to write an essay. Its access to real-time information gives it even more reach, with students possibly able to use it to write on current events without doing their own research. However, because it has not yet been released to the public, it does not present as imminent a concern as ChatGPT. There are also ways that Google could prevent this technology being used to cheat, such as developing an equivalent to GPT Zero, which would be able to detect the trademarks of the AI’s ‘voice’ in an essay.

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Zoe Kramer has been writing for GRV Media’s student-centric website Freshered since October 2022 and is now also contributing to HITC. She graduated from Cardiff University in 2022 with a BA in Journalism, Media and English Literature. During her time in university, she worked for her student newspaper as well as completing an internship with a book publisher. She has also written and continues to write book and theatre reviews. She is excited to now be pursuing a career as a journalist and learning something new every day. In particular, she loves writing about student life, books, the Internet, and travel. Originally from the United States, she is enjoying living abroad in the UK.