OTTAWA — Canada has found itself in the company of Russia and China as one of the few countries that do not have access to Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Bard. The standoff between Google and the Liberal government regarding regulation is the primary reason for this exclusion.
In an early Thursday morning blog post, Google announced the expansion of Bard, its equivalent to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, to 230 countries and territories. Notably absent from the list are Canada, North Korea, and Afghanistan.
While privacy concerns previously led Google to delay Bard’s launch in the European Union, the chatbot is now accessible in all EU countries.
The conflict between Google and the Liberal government revolves around the Online News Act. In response to the bill, Google pledged to remove news from its search engine and other products in Canada. The legislation requires Google and Meta to share revenues with Canadian news publishers. Both companies argue that complying with the bill is impractical and have instead opted to block news from their platforms, effectively exempting themselves from the legislation.
On Monday, the Liberal government released a document outlining specific details on how it intends to implement the bill’s regulations to address the concerns raised by the companies. This includes Meta and Google’s contention that the legislation exposes them to unlimited liability and necessitates payment for online links. The government now plans to establish a “financial threshold for contributions” based on the estimated Canadian revenues of the platforms.
Meta has affirmed that its plans to remove news from Facebook and Instagram remain unchanged. While Google has refrained from commenting on the government’s new plans for the bill, the company has shown a greater willingness to find a compromise overall. In late June, when the Online News Act became law, Google engaged in last-minute discussions with the government to seek a solution. Although it later announced its intention to remove news from Google Search, it also expressed a willingness to participate in the process of establishing the bill’s regulations.
Generative AI chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT utilize artificial intelligence to engage users in conversation. Users can seek assistance with tasks such as writing cover letters, planning trips, or producing research papers. AI technology also has the ability to generate photos and text. For example, in April, an AI-generated fake song by Drake and the Weeknd garnered significant attention.
The rapid emergence and growth of such generative AI technology over the past six months have raised concerns among AI experts and the industry itself. Calls for a moratorium on the technology and prompt government regulation have been made, citing potential existential risks.