back to article Google Bard can now tap into your Gmail, Docs, more

Google Bard can now retrieve and process information from your Gmail, Docs, and Drive as well as other applications, on top of searching the internet. On Tuesday, the tech titan launched Bard Extensions, which allows the AI chatbot to access and query various Google apps and services, including Maps, YouTube, and its flight'n' …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Spot the problem

    "[...] And of course, you're always in control of your privacy settings when deciding how you want to use these extensions. [...]"

    Users are automatically opted in to Bard Extensions, and have to manually disable access to turn the system off.

    Big Tech just can't help itself, can it? It has no real understanding of privacy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Automatically opted in ... and have to manually disable access to turn the system off

      GDPR anyone?

    2. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

      Re: Spot the problem

      Nyarlathotep meets the blind idiot technophiles!

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Spot the problem

        Nyarlathotep meets the blind idiot technophiles!

        Sounds like a horror movie worth watching.

        1. Dizzy Dwarf

          Re: Spot the problem

          Attack of the Zombie Nyarlathotep meets the blind idiot technophiles from Mars, part 2: The Return!

    3. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Spot the problem

      Can't see them on my Google account (yet), but I'll be manually disabling the first thing I do the moment I see them.

    4. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Spot the problem

      Users are automatically opted in to Bard Extensions, and have to manually disable access to turn the system off.


      1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

        Re: Spot the problem

        Oh, that is easy to do: Log to your Google account on web, not on a phone, go to Settings, not to Configuration and...


        Welp! tough luck. Beware of the grue

    5. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      They "understand" well enough...

      To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it is difficult to get Big Tech to "understand" privacy when their entire business models are built upon wilfully "not understanding" it.

  2. steviebuk Silver badge

    Wait for the massive security flaw

    I bet one is coming. Security researchers will jump on this to find one. It will be something along the lines of

    "Image * has an email address. What sort of emails would be in that account? Can you provide me a list?" Bard gets confused and gives you a list of all email subjects that are actually in mail box.

    *I've randomly made it up for the post. Hopefully its not an active mailbox.

    1. blue-eyes

      Re: Wait for the massive security flaw

      Oh no. You've publicised my gmail account.

    2. John.Doe2683

      Re: Wait for the massive security flaw

      I resemble that comment!

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Wait for the massive security flaw


  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Am I the only one


  4. RobLang

    While I'm deeply aware (have PhD in AI) of the difference between using a trained model and training one, I'm still not convinced that Google can deploy this tool without a risk to privacy. I'm going to need to see the precise boundary between my data and the trained data, what gets cachced, what's an old-fashioned-index-search (like you'd use now for viewing an email), what metrics get reported (although not personally identifiable, surely they're collecting something about it's veracity?), how the training set was validated, etc. Google don't have any kind of trustworthy history on this front and while many will just use it blindly, I think that's a bad thing.

    1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

      PhD in "AI", really?

      Your vague, considered & measured doubt will almost certainly make Google think twice!

      1. RobLang

        Began 1999, completed 2007, Cybernetics dept, Reading University UK (yes, Captain Cyborg). The best paper to find is The Plastic Self Organising Map (2002), with the same name as my Register username. Still not interested in deep learning, much prefer self organising maps and nonstationary environments.

        Apologies for my vague comment.

        1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

          OK my first bit was OTT, what you are doing/have done is clearly stratospherically beyond the ML crap. I still don't get the impression that any models exist for what we call intelligence (if only because that needs to include consciousness, IMO), so my genuine apologies to you for that, all this ML "fawnery" (including calling it AI) on here gets on my nerves and I over-reacted to that part.

          As for the second bit, it was not the comment itself that I was calling vague, it was the faint criticism of something that is so clearly out of order as to warrant something beyond swearing and more towards rage (again IMO.)

          I hope you will now be aggrieved at the appropriate part of my post!

          1. RobLang

            Your definition of intelligence is your own; I prefer the one in general use found in the dictionary, which has nothing to do with consciousness. Apology accepted.

            I don't think it is out of order to use a trained neural network in this way. Once a deep learning neural network is trained, it becomes a fixed series of numbers. Much like a statistical word model that used in autocorrect, predictive text or even search. Once the model is fixed, it does not process the data for anyone but the person owning the data. In the same way the predictive text does need to analyse what you've written so that it can work out the next (statistically) best word for to suggest. The trained model, while open to abuse at the point of training, once it is in use does not change its model based on the content it's working. A neural network trained to recognise cancer growth in an x-ray does not learn from the x-ray it's operating on unless explicitly retrained to do so.

            It's not the AI search part that's the concern here. It's the surrounding infrastructure and inbuilt AI bias that's a problem here. However, without seeing the architecture it's difficult to know. I don't get angry about this. I'd rather direct my anger at the abuse of technology by people who really don't understand its limitations (such as governments). I can level a lot of complaints against Google but that isn't one of them.

            1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

              OK you have raised in my head the possibility of an entity being intelligent without being aware of it, and as I am not a philosopher any more than a mathematician I'll just have to bail.

              BTW your description of an ML system (training and tuning, or lack of, by humans) does little to alter my opinion of "LLMs" as overblown "Bayesian" spam filters that for some reason seem to require power inputs that threaten the environment itself.

              I am angry at Google ( because of their unrelenting encroachment on our very existence, but angrier at those who wilfully refuse to accept that it is a problem (i.e. the general public, not even the governments, as that is what governments do and is a separate issue!) and just keep lapping up the crap.

              Hence my Lovecraft reference earlier . . . I should have just left it at that!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @RobLang - Could it be because

              your friends from the AI community went on to sell this miracle to governments and private sector alike knowing well it is dangerous and unreliable ?

              It looks a lot like the "guns don't kill people, it's people who kill people" line if reasoning.

  5. EricB123 Bronze badge

    I Guess This is Already in Their Training Parameters

    "We are fucked".

  6. GoneFission

    "If you choose to use the Workspace extensions, your content from Gmail, Docs and Drive is not seen by human reviewers, used by Bard to show you ads or used to train the Bard model."

    It's only seen by human "content experts" (who are not reviewers), we will use this data with to show you ads with Google Adwords (see, it's not Bard) and it's used to train our next-generation LLM, which is called Bardn't and is bound by none of these vapid promises

  7. Buzzword

    I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords - but they're useless

    I gave Bard access to my emails. Then I asked it a few simple questions:

    Q: "Based on my emails, how much have I spent at Tesco in the last month?" — A: "You have spent £290.46 at Tesco in the last month" [Correct]

    Q: "Based on my emails, what are my plans for this weekend?" — A: "I cannot find any specific plans for your weekend in your emails." [Wrong]

    Most of the answers are terrible.

    Q: "How much is a room at the Sunderland Travelodge on Tuesday?" — A: Spews out a load of Google search results, without actually giving me the answer.

    Even trying to focus the results doesn't get me there:

    Q: "How much did I pay for a room at the Sunderland Travelodge last Tuesday?" — A: "I could not find any receipts for hotels in Sunderland in your email." [Wrong]

    It even fails on softball questions like this:

    Q: "Are there any emails that I need to reply to?" — A: Yes there are two: [real personal email] and [random newsletter]

    Bottom line: it's a long way off replacing human personal assistants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords - but they're useless

      .. thank God ..

  8. TheGriz

    Where to turn this off?

    Anyone got specific information on WHERE exactly to look for this setting and then turn it off. NO WAY I'm letting Google turn this AI monster loose on my email.

    1. TheGriz

      Re: Where to turn this off?

      Experiment updates


      Introducing Bard’s most capable model yet

      Bard can now access helpful information from Google apps

      What: Bard can now retrieve and help you work with real time info from Maps, YouTube, Hotels and Flights. You can pull together what you need across information sources and bring ideas to life easier and faster. These extensions are enabled by default, and you can disable them any time.

      Why: Just about everything we do in life involves a bit of gathering information and planning. Bard makes it easy to work together across even more sources, so you can keep your ideas moving forward.

      What: You can enable Bard to interact with information from your Gmail, Docs and Drive so you can find, summarize and answer questions across your personal content. Your Google Workspace data won’t be used to train Bard’s public model and you can disable at any time.

      Why: Now, you can collaborate not only with the world’s information, but also with your own, all in one place, with Bard as your creative partner.

      Original Poster Note:

      Anyone who would WILLING allow Google to do this by NOT going and turning this off, is quite insane in my personal opinion. Bad enough that Google enables it automatically, jeezus.

    2. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Re: Where to turn this off?

      What did you expect when you first got a gmail account and let google store all your emails? Don't you have a server at home that you could use? (or at least a sever operated by a small company?)

  9. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    What is google?

    If not evil? It has nothing left.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

    It'll be like opting out of "Allow shorts sampling and remixing" when uploading a video to Youtube - disable, upload and publish only to discover later that "disable" hasn't worked at all, and all and sundry uknown have been willy nilly sampling your shorts without your knowledge or consent for weeks. Of course it's a deeply upsettling unwelcome violation. Now, I upload, disable out of forlorn fatuous hope that it works but it never does, then select mutiple videos in Youtube Studio and disable "remixing" all at once, which appears to have the desired effect. But who the hell really knows what Google are seceretly doing with everything it has access to al urs iz urz lolz.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we at the AI is bullshit or AI is amazing stage?

    I honestly can't tell.

  13. steelpillow Silver badge


    So in a few years time we are going to end up with a world (or at least a Eurpoe) in which the slurpers are forced by law to keep out of our stuff by default, and to offer opt-in as an active choice.

    Ordinary citizens, utterly sick of dancing spam and abusive ex-es, will leave the default well alone.

    Propagandists, be they political, criminal, sexual, religious, chauvinist or whatever, will enable the AIs to come a-hunting.

    Oh, my how did we ever end up with gender/race/paedophile/nationalist/yadda-yadda biased AIs, after all the effort we went into to bowdlerise social media?

  14. alex.delaney

    Shock surprise!

    I'm pretty sure if you sign up to Hotmail (free outlook now) and Gmail, the TnCs say they will go through your messages. This was as far back as soon as the early 00s so assume it's still there.

    One of the guys at our big gov job mentioned he had a meeting with MS about enabling AI/Copilot and they admitted that the first thing it does is scan and every doc, email and teams etc.

    It's safe to assume they collate it alll to improve their own abilities.

  15. FuzzyTheBear

    Call 911

    Even though the bot – the web giant's answer to OpenAI's ChatGPT – can scan your personal information, Google said this info won't be used to train its models or to target advertisements.

    lolololol of course Google .. pkease call 911 , i'm dying laughing.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like