Two Google engineers — Daniel De Freitas and Noam Shazeer — developed an AI chatbot more than two years ago. Google executives hindered multiple attempts made by the engineers, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Freitas, a research engineer, started working on an AI project to develop a conversational chatbot. Shazeer, a software engineer, then joined the project, and they together built a chatbot called Meena. The engineers believed that the chatbot, later renamed LaMDA, would revolutionalise searches on the internet and transform how individuals interacted with computers. 

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According to the WSJ report, Google executives thwarted the engineers from sending the chatbot to external researchers, adding the chatbot to Google Assistant, and launching a public demo.

The engineers then exited the company in 2021, despite CEO Sundar Pichai’s request to continue working on the chatbot.

Following ChatGPT’s debut in November 2022, Google is now acting towards publicly releasing its chatbot based on the technology developed by Freitas and Shazeer, who later established their own company after quitting Google. The tech giant is testing its Bard AI internally and externally, aiming to launch it widely in the coming weeks. 

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