Microsoft backed OpenAI at the start of 2023 by pledging a multimillion-dollar, multiyear investment to accelerate OpenAI's development of its AI technology.
Google made its GenAI move in March 2023 with Bard. In February 2024, Google rebranded Bard as Gemini when it debuted an improved version of the AI chatbot.
ChatGPT and Gemini are largely responsible for the considerable buzz around GenAI, which uses data from machine learning models to answer questions and create images, text and videos. OpenAI and Google are continuously improving the large language models (LLMs) behind ChatGPT and Gemini to give them a greater ability to generate human-like text.
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GenAI is still rapidly evolving, and models don't always return correct answers. Despite the common occurrence of AI hallucinations -- wrong answers generated by AI -- in both ChatGPT and Gemini, the tools are being adopted by businesses and consumers seeking to automate time-consuming tasks.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is the AI-powered chatbot that made GenAI the hot technology of 2023. According to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, ChatGPT reached 1 million users within five days of its release on Nov. 30, 2022.
Generative Pre-trained Transformer, the model ChatGPT is based on, finds patterns within data sequences. Its AI language model produces responses to user queries and serves as the interface that lets users communicate with the language model. GPT-3.5 is the current free ChatGPT language model, with the improved GPT-4 used in the paid subscription versions of ChatGPT Plus, ChatGPT Team and ChatGPT Enterprise. GPT-4 was generally considered the most advanced GenAI model when it became available, but Google Gemini Advanced is now considered a formidable rival.
Popular applications for ChatGPT include content generation of emails, social media posts and blogs; text summarization; language translation; code generation; learning and education; building virtual assistants; simulation and training; research assistance; and building games and other entertainment applications.
ChatGPT is multimodal, meaning users can use images and voice to prompt the chatbot. ChatGPT Voice -- available on iOS and Android phones -- lets users hold conversations with ChatGPT, which can respond in one of five AI-generated voices.
ChatGPT and ChatGPT Plus are targeted at individual users. The free version of ChatGPT is available through web browsers and mobile devices. Developers can also embed ChatGPT APIs in their software applications for their users to access.
ChatGPT Plus costs $20 per user, per month. GPT-4, used in ChatGPT Plus, responds faster than previous versions of GPT; is more accurate; and includes features such as advanced data analysis. GPT-4 can also create more detailed responses and is faster at tasks such as describing photos and writing image captions. And while GPT-3.5 was only trained on data up to January 2022, GPT-4 has been trained on data up to April 2023.
Another advantage of a ChatGPT Plus subscription is that it guarantees ChatGPT access even during peak usage times. Response times for free ChatGPT are limited by bandwidth and availability.
OpenAI sells ChatGPT Team and ChatGPT Enterprise to businesses. ChatGPT Team is available for $25 per user, per month billed annually. It includes everything in ChatGPT Plus but allows more messages during a defined time limit. It can also share GPTs with other workers, has a faster response time than ChatGPT Plus and includes an admin console. ChatGPT Enterprise has unlimited high-speed access to GPT-4; more advanced administration, customer support and analytics capabilities; expanded content windows for longer inputs; and has the fastest response time of all the ChatGPT versions. ChatGPT Enterprise pricing varies depending on usage.
What is Google Gemini?
Gemini is Google's GenAI model that was built by the Google DeepMind AI research library. The Gemini model powered Google's Bard GenAI tool that launched in March 2023. Google rebranded Bard as Gemini in February 2024, several months after launching Gemini Advanced based on its new Ultra 1.0 LLM foundation.
Gemini is designed to retrieve information as a simple answer, similar to the way smart assistants like Alexa and Siri work. It uses LLMs to reply to prompts with information it has already learned or can retrieve from other Google services.
Google Gemini is multimodal -- it understands audio, video and computer code as well as text. Google has paused Gemini's image generation feature because of inaccuracies, however. Google's statement disclosing the pause pledged to re-release an improved image generation feature soon.
Gemini's capabilities are integrated into Google's search engine and available in Google Workspace apps such as Docs, Gmail, Sheets, Slides and Meet. Gemini for Google Workspace is the new name for Duet AI for Google Workspace, which was Google's answer to the Microsoft Copilot AI assistant. Google Gemini is available through an app on Android phones and in the Google app on iOS.
Gemini Advanced is part of the Google One AI Premium plan subscription service that costs $19.99 per month in the United States. Google One AI Premium also includes 2 TB of storage.
Gemini Advanced is a more powerful AI version than Gemini Pro, which remains available for free. In a blog, Google CEO Sundar Pichai claimed Gemini Advanced with Ultra LLM is "far more capable at reasoning, following instructions, coding, and creative collaboration." In addition, he wrote that Gemini Advanced can serve as a personal tutor that adjusts to a person's learning style or can help build a business plan or content strategy.
Google has pre-announced Gemini 1.5 Pro, claiming it's as capable as Ultra 1.0. However, the company hasn't provided a time frame for releasing that version of its LLM.
Google suggests Gemini Pro and its AI capabilities is the better choice for development, research and creation tasks, and if you're looking for a free chatbot. It brings AI to simple tasks for personal use. For those willing to pay the subscription fee, Google recommends Gemini Advanced for professional applications, more demanding workflows, enhanced performance and more cutting-edge capabilities. Google Advanced will also include early access to new features.
Gemini Nano, another part of the Google Gemini family, is used in devices such as Google's Pixel 8 Pro smartphones.
What are the main differences between Gemini and ChatGPT?
ChatGPT and Google Gemini have become more similar as the release of Gemini Ultra 1.0 has made it more competitive with GPT-4. Both have a free service, a nearly identically priced subscription service, and similar interfaces and use cases. The differences are largely under the hood -- in their language models.
They're also used for many similar functions, and work by users typing in a query to get a response. Both raise privacy concerns about how user data can be used. However, they differ in their training models, data sources, user experiences and how they store data.
ChatGPT is built on OpenAI's GPT-3.5 or GPT-4, depending on whether it's the free version or the ChatGPT Plus paid version. Gemini has three sizes: Gemini Pro for a wide range of tasks, Gemini Ultra for highly complex tasks, and Gemini Nano for mobile devices. Ultra 1.0, which powers the subscription Gemini Advanced version, is faster and more advanced than the model used for the free Gemini Pro.
The main difference between ChatGPT and Gemini is the data sources used to train their LLMs. GPT-3.5 uses predefined data that does not go beyond January 2022, while GPT-4 data goes up to April 2023. Gemini draws on data pulled from the internet in real time. It is tuned to select data chosen from sources that fit specific topics such as coding or the latest scientific research.
Gemini Ultra has the largest data set with 1.6 trillion parameters and a training data set of 1.56 trillion words. GPT-4 has roughly 1.5 trillion parameters and a training data set of 13 trillion tokens, which can be single characters, words or parts of words. More parameters give an LLM more capacity to learn and understand language. But both Gemini and ChatGPT are constantly expanding, and the sheer volume of parameters often translates into little difference in actual performance.
ChatGPT users can log onto the free ChatGPT with any email account. ChatGPT also includes an API that developers can use to integrate OpenAI LLMs into third-party software. It lacks a Save button, but users can copy and paste answers from ChatGPT into another application. It does have an Archive button that can list previous responses in ChatGPT's left-hand pane for quick retrieval.
Because ChatGPT-3.5 is text-based, it can't include images, videos, charts or links in its answers. It also lacks the ability to search the internet.
Because of OpenAI's close partnership with Microsoft, ChatGPT can be used through Windows apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Also, Microsoft's Copilot AI assistants use ChatGPT-4's language model.
Gemini Pro's interface gives users a chance to like or dislike a response, opt to modify the size or tone of the response, share or fact-check the response, or export it to Google Docs or Gmail. Gemini also has a "review other drafts" option that shows alternate versions of its answer. Gemini also lets users upload images, but its ability to create images is on hold until Google improves that feature.
Google Ultra 1.0 has no API as of yet. Google does plan to integrate Gemini with its applications such as Docs, Gmail, Google Meet and Google Slides as part of its Google One AI Premium subscription. Users need a Google account for any version of Gemini.
Data storage and privacy
Both ChatGPT and Google Gemini store user data.
ChatGPT stores all prompts and queries entered. Users can review previous conversations through its archive feature. Although users can delete responses and conversations, the chatbot might continue to use these responses in its LLM for training. This raises privacy concerns when users enter personal data or proprietary information. OpenAI also discloses that ChatGPT gathers geolocation data, network activity, contact details such as email addresses and phone numbers, and device information.
OpenAI said the user retains ownership rights of input data and owns the output, but it "may use Content to provide, maintain, develop, and improve our Services, comply with applicable law, enforce our terms and policies, and keep our Services safe."
Gemini stores conversations in a user's Google account for 18 months, but users can change the retention period to three months or 36 months in their activity settings. Gemini conversations can also appear in searches, raising privacy concerns.
Google said it will share information to third parties with user consent and law enforcement when required.
Which chatbot is better?
There is a bit of a GenAI arms race going on now, with OpenAI and Google making updates to their models. Google has been especially aggressive, perhaps because ChatGPT came out first and Gemini must play catch-up. With each new version of the LLMs, Google and OpenAI make significant gains over their previous versions.
Generally, ChatGPT is considered the best option for text-based tasks while Gemini is the best choice for multimedia content. However, there are other considerations, as noted in earlier sections of this article. Users can try the free versions to determine which works better for them.
There have been several in-depth reviews about the chatbots worth noting:
- Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and BerriAI benchmarked Gemini Pro against GPT-3 and GPT-4 on 10 diverse language tasks with the goal of providing an impartial in-depth analysis. They found Gemini's strengths included performance on long, complex reasoning chains and translating into non-English languages. On the downside, it struggled with mathematical reasoning -- especially with large numbers -- showed bias on multiple choice questions and aggressive content filtering blocked many responses. In summary, the researchers concluded Gemini Pro did not match GPT-3 and GPT-4, but "exhibits strengths in handling complexity and reasoning depth."
- Ethan Mollick, an associate professor who studies AI at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, performed what he called "tasting notes" of Gemini Advanced vs. GPT-4. Mollick concluded that Gemini Advanced is the first advanced AI model that can compete with GPT-4. He said each has its strengths and weaknesses -- for example, GPT-4 uses code in a more sophisticated way and is better at hard verbal tasks while Gemini is better at explanations and search. But both "are weird and inconsistent and hallucinate more than you would like."
- Bernard Marr, a futurist and author of Generative AI in Practice, pointed out in a Forbes article that ChatGPT is designed to be more conversational while Gemini processes information and automates tasks more efficiently. Marr's conclusion after using ChatGPT and Gemini is that ChatGPT-4 is the more powerful chat interface but "Gemini is closing the gap …".
- Neither ChatGPT nor Gemini are perfect, and their developers admit that. Both generate hallucinations and even warn users of that in their responses.
- Both of the chatbots include a disclaimer on the bottom of their prompt screens. Gemini's reads: "Gemini may display inaccurate info, including about people, so double-check its responses." ChatGPT advises: "ChatGPT can make mistakes. Consider checking important information."
- The Gemini FAQ on Google's website offers this valuable advice that can apply to all AI tools:
- Gemini can't replace important people in your life, like family, friends, teachers or doctors.
- Gemini can't do your work for you.
- Gemini can't make important life decisions for you.
Generative AI alternatives
GenAI is a fast-moving technology. Besides the updates to ChatGPT and Google Gemini, other companies are working on AI projects. These include AI21 Labs' Wordtune, Anthropic's Claude, Glean, Jasper, Open Assistant and Writesonic's Chatsonic. China's Baidu search engine uses AI with an application called Ernie Bot. Many productivity applications and SaaS products also incorporate GenAI assistants.
Comparison of ChatGPT vs. Gemini responses
We asked ChatGPT 3.5 and Google Gemini Pro the same requests and prompts to see how their responses would compare. The results are as follows:
Prompt: What are the five hottest IT trends an IT professional should know about?
Thoughts: ChatGPT's answers were more general while Gemini drilled down into specific areas -- for example, generative AI vs. AI/ML and cybersecurity mesh vs. cyber security. ChatGPT's inability to reference data past January 2022 limits its effectiveness when looking for trending information. Gemini snuck in a few extras under "Bonus trends."
Prompt: Write a two-paragraph summary explaining cyber-resiliency challenges.
Thoughts: Both did a good job of explaining and summarizing a complex issue in two paragraphs, but Gemini included more specifics about the challenges and what can be done about them.
Prompt: What are the best cloud computing conferences to attend?
Thoughts: ChatGPT listed more conferences, but its list was a bit dated as several of its conferences have been renamed. Gemini offered greater detail and broke its list into specific areas of expertise.
Prompt: List 10 frequently used SQL queries for querying a PostgreSQL database.
Thoughts: The lists were similar, although they used different terms in some cases. A nice feature was the code embedded in the responses. We shortened Gemini's response to fit on one page, but its longer version included embedded code.
Dave Raffo is an independent IT analyst and journalist. He previously worked as a senior analyst at The Futurum Group and Evaluator Group, covering integrated systems, software-defined storage, container storage, public cloud storage and as-a-service offerings. He previously worked at TechTarget from 2007 to 2021 as executive news director and editorial director for its storage coverage, and he was a technology journalist for 30 years.