With all the hype surrounding ChatGPT, it’s no wonder other companies are fighting for a piece of the AI chatbot pie. They recognize that we are at a crucial moment in the artificial intelligence industry, where products that adopt and build on this concept could have the potential to revolutionize the technology we currently use – not to mention shake up the Big Tech hierarchy.
The stakes are high, and the biggest tech players don’t want to be left behind as AI becomes more advanced, accessible and interesting to users. While tech giants like Microsoft and Google have already introduced their own versions of conversational AI tools built using large language models (LLMs), other lesser-known companies are also starting to get involved.
(Source: Emma Roth of The Verge)
The company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp is also turning to AI technology. It developed the Galactica language model, intended to assist scientists and researchers by providing summaries of academic articles, solutions to mathematical problems, the ability to annotate molecules, and more.
Although Meta says it trained it on “over 48 million papers, textbooks, reference material, compounds, proteins and other sources of scientific knowledge,” the bot produced disappointing results when the company made it available in a public beta version in November 2022. The scientific community heavily criticized the tool, with one scientist even describing it as “dangerous” due to its inaccurate or biased responses. Meta ended up taking the chatbot offline after just a few days.
Galactica, however, is not the company’s first attempt at creating an AI model. Meta has also developed BlenderBot 3, which is supposed to act like a digital assistant. It became publicly available last August, but did not prove particularly impressive.
But Meta did not give up on its breakthrough in the field of artificial intelligence. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company has created a dedicated AI team that should create “AI personas” designed to help people, as well as text- and image-based AI tools for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
Anthropic – an AI research company founded in 2021 by former OpenAI employees, in which Google invested $300 million in 2022 – is working on its own ChatGPT competitor called Claude.
The company developed the chatbot using a methodology it calls Constitutional AI. In short, it involves Anthropic training a language model with a set of about 10 “natural language instructions or principles” that it uses to automatically revise its responses. The aim of the system, as they say, is to “train better and more harmless AI assistants” without the need for human feedback.
AI data platform Scale gained access to Claude and highlighted some differences between Anthropic’s bot and ChatGPT. It was found that the service could be a serious competitor to OpenAI’s system and that this bot is “more inclined to refuse inappropriate requests.” However, Claude also comes with some drawbacks, as it appears to still be making certain factual and mathematical errors. It is currently only available to companies as an early-access product, but not to the general public.
You.com, a company founded by two former Salesforce employees, bills itself as a “search engine you control.” At first glance, it may seem like your typical search engine, but it comes with an AI-powered chat feature that works similarly to the one Microsoft is testing on the new Bing.
Just like Microsoft’s AI, Youchat can provide annotated answers to various types of queries, summarize online articles, generate code, write essays, and more.
In addition to giving users access to an AI chatbot, You.com recently added built-in AI-based image generator models, including Stable Diffusion 1.5, Stable Diffusion 2.1, and Open Journey, which you can use to generate images based on a written description. This search engine also breaks down your search results based on relevant answers on sites like Reddit, TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, and YouTube, while providing standard results from the web.
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has also caught on to the AI chatbot trend. In early February, a company spokesperson revealed to CNBC that the company was internally testing a rival to ChatGPT. Alibaba has reportedly been experimenting with generative AI since 2017, but the company hasn’t hinted at when it might announce the tool it’s working on or what it would be capable of.
However, Alibaba may have some hurdles to overcome before it can launch its own version of ChatGPT. The Nikkei Asia portal points to the fact that Chinese regulators have already warned Tencent and Ant Group (owned by Alibaba) that they should restrict access to ChatGPT due to concerns that the bot could adopt uncensored content. Companies will also have to consult with the government before releasing their own bots to the public.
Another Chinese company, Baidu, is preparing to launch an AI tool it dubbed Ernie Bot as early as March. Baidu is best known for its eponymous search engine, along with numerous other online services, such as the Baidu Maps platform, the Baidu Baike online encyclopedia, the Baidu Wangpan cloud storage service, etc. It’s also using artificial intelligence technology to develop a self-driving car.
Ernie, which stands for Enhanced Representation through kNowledge IntEgration, first appeared in 2019 and has since evolved into a ChatGPT-like tool that can provide conversational responses. In late 2021, Baidu stated that the model was trained on “massive unstructured data and a gigantic knowledge graph” and that it “excels at both natural language understanding (NLU) and generation (NLG).”
Much like Microsoft and Google, Baidu also plans to integrate the chatbot into its search engine and even incorporate it into the interface of the upcoming electric vehicle made by Chinese startup Jidu.
Other potential candidates
Beyond companies building standalone chatbots for search, there are several other companies using generative AI in slightly different ways.
Snapchat, for instance, is working on a My AI chatbot that basically acts as an in-app version of ChatGPT, allowing users to ask for recipe suggestions or travel plans. However, it is more limited than ChatGPT as it’s been trained in the scope of Snapchat’s trust and safety guidelines. The service is only available as part of the Plus subscription plan for $3.99 per month, but CEO Evan Spiegel plans to roll it out to all users eventually.
Character.AI is another one of these tools and comes from the developers of Google’s LaMDA technology. The site lets you create or browse chatbots modeled after real people or fictional characters, such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or Tony Stark. When you “converse” with these bots, the AI tries to respond in a manner similar to that person or character’s personality.
Then, there’s Replika, a chatbot that functions as a sort of “AI companion” that you can chat with via text and even video calls. The tool combines the company’s own version of the GPT-3 model with scripted dialogue content to generate responses tailored to your conversation style.
This is just the beginning of conversational AI, but it will be interesting to see how all these tools evolve over the coming years, as well as which ones will potentially become a part of our everyday lives.