ChatGPT rival Bard’s blunder during debut costs Google $100 billion

A factual error by Bard and an unimpressive live presentation led to stocks plummeting by 7.7 percent.
Deena Theresa
Google's AI chatbot Bard made a mistake during its debut.
Google's AI chatbot Bard made a mistake during its debut.

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The highly awaited Google AI chatbot Bard made an error during its public debut on Wednesday, causing its parent company, Alphabet losing more than $US100 billion in market value.

Alphabet shares slid as much as nine percent during regular trading and were flat after hours. Meanwhile, Microsoft shares rose about three percent before paring gains and were also flat in post-market trading, Reuters reported.

Describing the chatbot as a "launchpad for curiosity and [that] can help simplify complex topics," the tech giant had posted a short promotional video of Bard via Twitter, hours before a presentation in Paris. The Google event that failed to impress investors can also be considered responsible for the stocks to plummet by 7.7 percent.

Bard falls behind during debut

Reuters was the first to notice the error in Google's advertisement about which satellite took pictures of a planet outside Earth's solar system.

In the advertisement, Bard is given the prompt: "What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my 9-year-old about?" In response, Bard produces three answers, including one suggesting the JWST was used to take the first pictures of a planet outside the Earth's solar system or exoplanets. However, NASA confirmed that the first pictures of exoplanets were taken by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004.

"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."

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ChatGPT rival Bard’s blunder during debut costs Google $100 billion
The factual error during a demo.

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Gil Luria, a senior software analyst at DA Davidson, told Reuters: "While Google has been a leader in AI innovation over the last several years, they seemed to have fallen asleep on implementing this technology into their search product.

"Google has been scrambling over the last few weeks to catch up on search and that caused the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) to be rushed and the embarrassing mess up of posting a wrong answer during their demo."

At a time when tech behemoths are at war over who has the better chatbot, an error like this will not go down well with consumers. In contrast, OpenAI's ChatGPT was impressive, with simple and well-written answers.

"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," commented Dennis Dick, founder and market structure analyst at Triple D Trading.

Google's presentation on Wednesday failed to provide further insights into Bard. In comparison, Microsoft already released a preview version of its ChatGPT-powered Bing search during its launch.

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