Google releases Bard to the world – but leaves the EU behind

At the I/O 2023 event yesterday, Google announced that it had officially removed the waiting list for its AI-powered chatbot Bard and made the service available in 180 countries and territories.

Unfortunately for most Europeans eager to test the tech giant’s contribution to the generative AI race, European Union countries are not on the list.

The company has not commented on why the EU has been left out. However, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume it has something to do with how members of the block has responded until the introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

In all likelihood, Google is also awaiting the finalization of the EU’s long-awaited AI law before unleashing Bard across the continent. The leading committees of the European Parliament gave their approval into law earlier today, with a tentative plenary approval date scheduled for June 14.

While Google doesn’t offer specific plans for more geographic access, Google does say it will “gradually expand to more countries and territories in a manner consistent with local regulations and our AI principles.”

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In addition to releasing Bard to much of the world (and keen VPN users), Google also introduced a range of new features to the chatbot. First of all, it’s now powered by Google’s latest major language model: PaLM2, an improved version of PaLM, released in April. Meanwhile, Bard continued to be introduced as a “conversational AI experiment.”

According to Sissie Hsiao, Google VP and General Manager for Google Assistant and Bard, the chatbot is now trained in 20 programming languages. This means that users can ask it to produce, debug and improve code in C++, Python and JavaScript, for example.

In addition, users can now switch to the seemingly much-requested dark mode. But what’s more, they can also create images through Bard, using Adobe’s AI art generator Firefly through an extension feature that allows it to integrate with third-party apps and platforms.

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