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Google’s Bard overcomes EU hurdles, expands territories and capabilities

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Alphabet Inc.’s Google said July 13 it has launched its chatbot called Bard to users in the European Union (EU) and Brazil. This launch comes after the tech company overcame the regulatory hurdles faced in the EU. The territory expansion also came along with the unveiling of new features for the artificial intelligence (AI) tool.

In the company’s blog post, Google stated that this AI tool now has the capability to generate responses in over 40 languages, encompassing Chinese, Hindi and Spanish. Additionally, new features would be introduced to Bard in specific regions. These features include the capability to hear spoken responses, upload images for prompts and utilize the AI tool to analyze photos.

This expansion move for this product marks its most significant growth since it was launched in February. As a result, it now competes directly with ChatGPT, a rival supported by Microsoft.

Bard, which was launched earlier this year in approximately 180 countries, has finally reached the EU, making it available to the remaining part of the world. The delay in its availability in the EU was attributed to concerns regarding compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to the company.

Google’s Senior Product Director, Jack Krawczyk, mentioned that the tech company engaged in highly productive discussions with privacy regulators in Europe. He emphasized that ongoing dialogue is anticipated to ensure the incorporation of transparency, choice and control as the development of the product progresses.

According to Krawczyk, Google will now provide users with explicit notifications regarding the usage and storage of their data and grant them the option to prevent the company’s employees from reviewing conversations. Importantly, these control options will be accessible worldwide, extending beyond the boundaries of the European Union.

Related: Report: Meta to release commercial AI tools to rival Google, OpenAI

Chat services built on large language models have hit roadblocks in Europe before because of existing data protection laws. OpenAI’s ChatGPT, for example, was temporarily shut down in Italy over related issues.

Google is currently facing a new class action lawsuit in the United States, accusing the company of utilizing users’ personal information inappropriately for the training of its artificial intelligence system.

However, the allure of novelty may be diminishing as recent web user statistics indicate a decline in monthly traffic and unique visitors to ChatGPT’s website in June, marking the first such decrease ever recorded.

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