• Google CEO Sundar Pichai said he used Google Bard to help plan his father’s 80th birthday.
  • Pichai said he first used the tech that powers Bard two years ago and had an “unsettling” experience.
  • The CEO said the chatbot works best when it’s asked fun and creative questions.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says he’s begun incorporating the company’s AI chatbot, Bard, into his everyday life and even used it to help plan his father’s 80th birthday party.

“I think the area where it shines the most is asking questions,” Pichai said in a recent interview with The New York Times on its Hard Fork podcast.

The CEO said he asked the chatbot: “What do I do with my dad on an 80th birthday?” Pichai said Bard told him he should make a scrapbook for the event.

“It’s not that it’s profound, but it says things and kind of sparks the imagination,” Pichai told the Times.

The Google CEO said he thinks the chatbot works best in two categories: when you ask it something fun and creative or if you ask it about a subject where you have expertise and can more properly parse the answer.

Pichai said he first began using LaMDA, the technology that powers Bard, about two years ago and had a “fascinating” and “kind of unsettling” experience with the program at the time.

“The way we primed it was ‘Imagine you were Pluto as a planet,'” Pichai said. “And I remember playing around with my son at home talking to LaMDA back and forth. And there were a couple of conversations you really got deeply into it being Pluto. Because Pluto is far out in space, it became really lonely.”

The CEO said the chatbot’s response to the prompt at the time made him feel “sad” talking to it. 

In 2021, Google shared a demo video of LaMDA answering questions while pretending to be Pluto, as well as a paper airplane.

Pichai’s experience echoes similar stories from early users of Google’s competitor, Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot. Earlier this year, some beta testers of the software reported that the OpenAI-powered chatbot had done everything from threaten to declare its love for users.

Last year, a Google engineer said he believed LaMDA had become sentient and compared it to an 8-year-old child. But experts at the time told Insider it’s easy for the mind to play tricks on people when it comes to dealing with chatbots designed to sound human.

In March, numerous tech executives, including Elon Musk, signed a letter that called for a six-month pause on AI development. Pichai told the Times he understands the concerns people have, but remains optimistic about AI technology. The CEO said Google’s chatbot will soon be upgraded and powered by “more capable models.”

“I feel like we took a souped-up Civic, kind of put it in a race with more powerful cars. And what surprised me is how well it does on many, many, many classes of queries,” Pichai said during the podcast.

Listen to the Times’ full podcast on its website.

Do you work in tech or have insight to share? Reach out to the reporter from a non-work email at [email protected]


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