The logo for Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City
The logo for Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 17, 2021. Reuters

Google parent Alphabet Inc on Monday said it will launch a chatbot service and more artificial intelligence for its search engine as well as developers, a riposte to Microsoft Corp in their rivalry to lead a new wave of technology.

The news follows the public's rapid embrace of ChatGPT, a competing chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI that produces human-like prose on command and that some expect will disrupt how consumers search for information online, key to Google's business.

In a blog post, Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said his company is opening a conversational AI service called Bard to test users for feedback, followed by a public release in the coming weeks. He also said Google plans to add AI features to its search engine that synthesize material for complex queries, like whether learning guitar or piano is easier.

Pichai said of the chatbot, "Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world's knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our" AI.

For its part, Microsoft on Tuesday is briefing news media outlets on its own project developments with its CEO Satya Nadella, according to an invitation seen by Reuters.

Behind Google's Bard is LaMDA, Google's AI that generated text with such skill that a company engineer called it sentient, a claim the technology giant and scientists widely dismissed.

How Google aims to differentiate Bard from ChatGPT was unclear. Pichai said the new service draws on information from the internet; ChatGPT's knowledge is up to date as of 2021.

In a demo of the service, Bard like its rival chatbot invites users to give it a prompt while warning its response may be inappropriate or inaccurate. It then bulleted three answers to a query about a space telescope's discoveries, the demo showed.

Google is relying on a version of LaMDA that requires less computing power so it can serve more users and improve with their feedback, Pichai said.

ChatGPT at times has turned away users because of explosive growth, with UBS analysts reporting it had 57 million unique visitors in December outpacing potentially TikTok in adoption.

Google, meanwhile, plans to give technology tools, first powered by LaMDA and later by other AI, to creators and enterprises starting next month, Pichai said.

Google's update for search, the timing of which it did not disclose, reflects how the company is bolstering its service while Microsoft is doing the same for Bing, embedding OpenAI's capabilities in it.