Google Opens Up Its Bard AI Tool to Teenagers Around the World

The company wants you to know that it's "continuing to be responsible" as it brings its generative AI tools to more people.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
Google Bard logo and the words "enter a prompt here"
Amy Kim/CNET

Google's conversational AI chatbot, called Bard, is now available to teens in most countries around the world, the company said this week in a blog post. Teenage users in those areas must meet the minimum age requirements to manage their own Google account, which generally falls between 14 and 16. They'll be able to access it only in English for now, with more languages to be added.

The news comes two months after Google noted that it was expanding access to its AI-powered search experience, or SGE, to teens who signed up for the company's Search Labs.

Throughout both the Bard and SGE posts, Google emphasized that it's "continuing to be responsible" as it opens up the generative AI tools to more people. For all the ways that gen AI promises to be a useful tool, in endeavors ranging widely from travel and event planning to business research to education, it has pitfalls for those who aren't paying close attention.

See also: Travel Planning With AI: I Tested It for a City I Know Inside and Out

The Bard post, for instance, makes note of generative AI's susceptibility to hallucinations, which happen when the large language models underlying AI chatbots generate incorrect or nonsensical text. The first time a teen asks a factual question, the site will automatically run its double-check response feature to help evaluate if there's web content to substantiate Bard's answer. The site will also recommend that teens regularly use the feature, which will soon automatically run when any new Bard user asks their first factual question, according to the blog post.

The field of AI chatbots and generative AI has exploded since OpenAI introduced its ChatGPT service to the public a year ago this month. In July, Google was one of four leading artificial intelligence companies, including Microsoft, to launch the Frontier Model Forum, an industry group aimed at identifying best AI safety practices and promoting its responsible use.

In its SGE post in September, Google said it has built safeguards into the experience for teens.

"SGE's quality protections are designed to prevent inappropriate or harmful content from surfacing," the post reads. "For example, we've put stronger guardrails in place for outputs related to illegal or age-gated substances or bullying, among other issues. And as we gather even more feedback, we will continue to improve how our systems respond, working with experts along the way to better protect teens."

Both SGE in search and SGE while browsing can be turned on or off from the Google Search Labs home page.

In August, Google gave its Search Generative Experience a major update in the Google App and later in the Chrome web browser. SGE can summarize web pages and also show definitions of unfamiliar words.

In October, the company brought Bard capabilities to its Google Assistant service.

Editors' note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.

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