Google shares tank 8% as AI chatbot Bard flubs answer in ad

Shares of Google’s parent company lost more than $100bn after its Bard chatbot advertisement showed inaccurate information.

The Google Inc. logo is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in this arranged photograph taken in Little Falls, New Jersey, U.S
Google said it is kicking off a rigorous testing process to avoid inaccuracies in the future [File: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg]

Shares of Google’s parent company lost more than $100bn in market value on Wednesday after its Bard chatbot advertisement showed inaccurate information and analysts said its AI search event lacked details on how it will answer Microsoft’s ChatGPT challenge.

Reuters was the first to point out the error in Google’s advertisement, which debuted Monday, about which satellite first took pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system. Shares of the company’s parent Alphabet fell 8 percent or $8.59 a share to $99.05 and was one of the most actively traded on US exchanges.

The tech giant posted a short GIF video of Bard in action via Twitter, describing the chatbot as a “launchpad for curiosity” that would help simplify complex topics, but it delivered an inaccurate answer that was spotted just hours before the launch event for Bard in Paris.

“This is a hiccup here and they’re severely punishing the stock for it, which is justified because obviously everybody is pretty excited to see what Google’s going to counter with Microsoft coming out with a pretty decent product,” said Dennis Dick, founder and market structure analyst at Triple D Trading.

Google’s event came one day after Microsoft unveiled plans to integrate its rival AI chatbot ChatGPT into its Bing search engine and other products in a major challenge to Google, which for years has outpaced Microsoft in search and browser technology.

In the advertisement, Bard is given the prompt, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my nine-year-old about?”

Bard responds with a number of answers, including one suggesting the JWST was used to take the very first pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system, or exoplanets. This is inaccurate, as the first pictures of exoplanets were taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004, as confirmed by NASA.

A Google spokesperson told Reuters, “This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester programme.”

“We’ll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and groundedness in real-world information.”

The error was spotted hours before the Paris launch, where senior executive Prabhakar Raghavan promised that users would use the technology to interact with information in “entirely new ways”.

Raghavan presented Bard on Wednesday as the future of the company, telling audience members that by using generative AI, “the only limit to search will be your imagination.”

“Google has been scrambling over the last few weeks to catch up on search and that caused the announcement yesterday to be rushed and the embarrassing mess up of posting a wrong answer during their demo,” said Gil Luria, senior software analyst at DA Davidson, an investment bank.

At the time of writing, the advertisement had been viewed on Twitter more than a million times.

Source: Reuters