DeepMind, a Google subsidiary, says it may launch a rival ChatGPT soon – and its chatbot promises to be a safer kind of AI assistant.
DeepMind has been a pioneer in AI research for the past decade and was acquired by Google nine years ago. However, after ChatGPT steals the latest headlines, said Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind Time (opens in a new tab) that it is considering releasing its own chatbot called Sparrow for “private beta” in 2023.
Sparrow was introduced to the world last year as a proof of concept in research document (opens in a new tab) who described it as “a dialogue agent that is useful and reduces the risk of dangerous and inappropriate responses.”
Despite some concerns about the potential dangers of chatbots, which DeepMind says contain “inaccurate or made-up information,” it appears that Sparrow may be ready to take flight in beta form soon. Given DeepMind’s close relationship with Google, it could effectively become the search giant’s answer to ChatGPT.
According to Demis Hassabis, the slight delay in the launch of Sparrow is due to DeepMind’s desire to ensure it has important features that ChatGPT lacks – specifically citing specific sources. As Hassabis Time said, “care must be taken on this front.”
The DeepMind research article also says that Sparrow will initially be more limited and conservative than ChatGPT. The latter went viral for its impressive ability to help everyone from programmers to armchair poets, but it also caused concern for its ability to make discriminatory comments and its ability to write malware.
DeepMind discussed the behavior-restricting principles Sparrow relies on, along with a willingness to refuse to answer questions in “contexts where it’s appropriate to submit to people.” In early testing, Sparrow apparently gave a credible answer and, most importantly, backed it up with evidence “78% of the time a factual question was asked.”
But its true capabilities will become clearer when this public beta launches later this year. We’re sure to grab the popcorn for the first AI chatbot debate between the Google-linked Sparrow and the increasingly Microsoft-loving ChatGPT.
Analysis: AI chatbots are still in kindergarten
Anyone who has used ChatGPT will know that it is capable of making a pretty good imitation of intelligence on many topics. But while it’s definitely a fun ride, AI chatbots also need moral intelligence and the ability to cite sources – and that’s where DeepMind claims its “dialogue agent” Sparrow is at its strongest.
Taking this to the next level will require a ton of outside input, which is why Sparrow’s public beta is imminent. DeepMind says developing better rules for its AI assistant “will require both input from experts across a wide range of topics (including policy makers, social scientists and ethicists) and participatory input from diverse users and affected groups.”
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI (which created ChatGPT), similarly spoke about the difficulty of opening AI chatbots without causing collateral damage. On Twitter (opens in a new tab) acknowledged that “there will be serious problems with the use of OpenAI technology over time; we’ll do our best, but we can’t anticipate every problem.”
In other words, the creators of both ChatGPT and DeepMind’s Sparrow are like parents with curious toddlers, which brings fun and danger in equal measure – especially when their kindergarten teacher is actually the entire Internet.
ChatGPT is already going wild and heading towards the monetary future with ChatGPT Professional, a soon to be paid tier. But DeepMind’s Sparrow appears to be the more benign figure that AI chatbots need as they race towards next-gen models like the rumored ChatGPT-4.