Sparrow, Google’s answer to ChatGPT

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

The opening up of this type of technology to the general public follows the usual steps: first, everyone is enchanted by its potential. So let’s point the finger at illegitimate uses; and we get a little disenchanted when we see our limits. But 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 intrinsic limitations, ChatGPT today constitutes a formidable playground of this technology. According to the New York Times, fears are 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 says that Google intends to unveil 20 AI-powered products this year. The annual Google I/O conference, to be held in May 2023, could be an opportunity to discover some of these technologies. We are talking about an image generation tool, augmented shopping projects, video creation, but also professional software to help developers design Android applications.

Sparrow, the DeepMind chatbot that looks like ChatGPT

ChatGPT could overshadow Google because the tool allows you to partially realize 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 Microsoft has injected into OpenAI, you can see the risks to the Mountain View company…

A chatbot named Sparrow

One of Google’s answers may lie in the development of a chatbot, called Sparrow, developed by DeepMind, the artificial intelligence subsidiary of Google’s parent company – known for AlphaGo, the computer program that beat Lee Sedol at the game of Go, or also AlphaCode, a technology that can write computer code.

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

Sparrow’s model evolves with user responses © DeepMind

A private beta of Sparrow in 2023

In an interview, DeepMind CEO and co-founder Demis Hassabis indicates that Sparrow should arrive in private beta in 2023. Too slow a response to ChatGPT? Between the lines we see above all the prudence of the leader on these issues, in the face of the consequences that technologies based on artificial intelligence could have. Through a tool like ChatGPT or Sparrow, we think about disinformation, censorship, spreading stereotypes or hateful comments. DeepMind thus finds itself in a delicate situation: that of accelerating its response to ChatGPT via Sparrow, limiting the biases and risks associated with AI. A good challenge, which is now one of Google’s priorities.

The differences between Sparrow and ChatGPT

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

For many years, the search engine has been showing enriched and structured results, on top of the results, to give a direct answer to the Internet user. This has always been a touchy subject because Google is regularly accused of stealing the content of the sites it references. It started with simple answers; but it is clear that the results formatted in this way are always more complete, even for complex queries. The integration of the sites used in Sparrow could therefore allow publishers to save money, which could be heavily affected if this type of service were to gain popularity, by providing an adequate and sourced response to users.

Furthermore, one of the limitations of the current version of ChatGPT lies in the age of its data – which stops at 2021. Google is above all a tool that scans and indexes content. The freshness of the data could therefore constitute a decisive advantage in the struggle to come in this sector.

Leave a Comment