In a tweet — that as of publication is still live on its Twitter account — Google shared a GIF of Bard in action. The conversational AI is depicted responding to questions from an unseen user, including one about the James Web Space Telescope. One of the generated responses in the chatbot’s thread was inaccurate, however, claiming that the JWST was the first to find an exoplanet outside of our solar system — an achievement that actually belongs to the ESO, which made the discovery nearly 20 years ago using its VLT, according to Reuters, which first reported on the mistake.
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
Though that’s no doubt an embarrassing oversight for Google, it does serve as a nice example of what can go wrong with these chatbots — namely, that they may present inaccurate information in a seemingly authoritative way, potentially leaving readers convinced that false statements are true. As expected, Google was quick to issue a statement on the mistake, with a spokesperson telling Reuters that the company will use feedback from its newly-announced tester program, among other things, to make sure “Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety and [are] groundedness in real-world information.”
Despite that intention, the foible has already cost Google dearly, and not just when it comes to embarrassment. As reported by Reuters, the company’s shares plummeted 8% in the hours following the release of the demonstration, representing billions in lost market value. The very public mistake combined with recent reports that Google was scrambling to launch its own AI alternative in the face of serious competition from Microsoft and OpenAI may have been enough to spook investors — for now, at least.