Shareholders initiated a sell-off in Alphabet shares that stripped Google parent of $100 billion in market value after its new Bard chatbot shared inaccurate information in a promotional video and an unveiling of new search capabilities failed to gain much attention, reports Reuters. This has fueled fears that the search giant is losing ground to rival Microsoft.
Alphabet’s stock fell nearly 9% at one point, while Microsoft’s stock jumped about 3%. Also contributing to the drop was the fact that Reuters pointed to an error in an ad for the Bard chatbot, in which it gave the wrong answer about which telescope took the first image of a planet outside the solar system.
On the other hand, Google’s presentation did not include details about how and when the company will integrate Bard into its core search engine. While Microsoft held an event at which it immediately announced that it had already released a version of its Bing search with integrated ChatGPT functions for testing with a limited number of users.
The Bard mistake was discovered just before Google’s presentation. The company posted a short GIF demonstration of its chatbot on Twitter, promising that it would help simplify complex topics, but instead the AI gave an inaccurate answer.
Bard is an experimental conversational AI service, powered by LaMDA. Built using our large language models and drawing on information from the web, it’s a launchpad for curiosity and can help simplify complex topics → https://t.co/fSp531xKy3 pic.twitter.com/JecHXVmt8l
— Google (@Google) February 6, 2023
In the ad, Bard is asked, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old?”. The chatbot provides several answers, one of which is that with the help of James Webb, the first images of planets outside the solar system, or exoplanets, were taken. But in fact, the first images of exoplanets were taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004, which was confirmed by NASA.
“This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program,” a Google spokesperson said. “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.”
During the event, senior executive Prabhakar Raghavan promised that users will use Bard to interact with information in “completely new ways.” He pitched Bard as the future of the company, telling the audience that by using generative AI, “the only limit to search will be your imagination.”
Alphabet is coming off a disappointing fourth quarter as advertisers cut spending compared to the peak of the pandemic, when more consumers shopped online due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.
The search and advertising giant is moving quickly to keep up with OpenAI and competitors, and has reportedly brought in founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to accelerate its efforts. Investors, obviously, remained unconvinced.