Google announced its AI chatbot Bard — a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT that’s due to become “more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.” But the bot isn’t off to a great start, with experts noting that Bard made a factual error in its very first demo. It has yet to be released to the public.
A GIF shared by Google on Twitter shows Bard answering the question: “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old about?” Bard offers three bullet points in return, including one that states that the telescope “JWST took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system.”
According to NASA, however, the first image showing an exoplanet — or any planet beyond our solar system — was actually taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope nearly two decades ago, in 2004.
Shares in Google’s parent company Alphabet fell 7.7% Wednesday, wiping $100 billion off its market value after the inaccurate response from Bard was first reported by Reuters.
Social media users quickly pointed out that the company could’ve fact-checked the exoplanet claim by, Googling it.
The ad aired just hours before Google’s senior executives touted Bard as the future of the company at a launch event in Paris. By Wednesday, Alphabet shares had slid as much as 9% during trading hours, balancing out by the day’s close.
Meanwhile, shares for Microsoft, Google’s rival, rose by 3%. Microsoft announced this week that it would incorporate ChatGPT into products like its Bing search engine. The company has invested $10 billion into OpenAI, the start-up that created ChatGPT.
While they’re extremely good at generating plausible-sounding responses, contemporary large language models (LLMs) like OpenAI’s GPT and ChatGPT are still largely unable to differentiate truth from fiction.
And that bodes badly because tech giants including Microsoft and Google are racing each other to deploy these LLMs in their widely-used search engines — potentially filling the internet with complete garbage.
Bruce Macintosh, director of the University of California Observatories at UC Santa Cruz, also pointed out the mistake. “Speaking as someone who imaged an exoplanet 14 years before JWST was launched, it feels like you should find a better example?” he tweeted.
Google did not respond to NPR’s request for comment. In a Monday blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai said Bard will be available exclusively to “trusted testers” before releasing the engine publicly in the coming weeks.