More than $120 billion was wiped from Google’s market value after its new AI search assistant gave a wrong answer that appeared in promotional materials.
Share price of parent company Alphabet fell 8 percent after the launch of the Google Bard tool got off to a rocky start following the misleading answer to a question about a NASA telescope.
At its low on Wednesday, Alphabet was trading at $98.08 (£81.16), down 8.1 percent from the previous day’s price of $106.77 (£88.35).
It marked Alphabet’s biggest one-day drop in value since October 2022, when the company lost 9 percent of its value in one day after revealing a major slowdown in sales, earnings and growth.
Bard, the AI search assistant, is used by Google to generate text summaries of search results.
But in an animated image of Google Bard in action circulated by the company to mark the launch of the new feature, it gives a wrong answer.
The falsehood will raise further questions about the accuracy of search engines and AI-generated responses to people’s questions.
In an animated GIF showing how Bard works, a user types in the query “what new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old about?”
The NASA telescope was made operational in December 2021 and has been used by scientists to make several discoveries of new extrasolar planets.
One of Bard’s comments says, “JWST has taken the first-ever images of a planet outside our own solar system.”
This is not accurate. The first ever photograph of a planet outside the solar system – an exoplanet – was captured in 2004 by the Very Large Telescope array in Chile.
The exoplanet is called 2M1207b, is about five times the size of Jupiter and is about 170 light-years away from Earth.
Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Bard’s tall tale.
Fears have been raised about inaccuracies generated by artificial intelligence systems that cannot be easily noticed by humans.
OpenAI, makers of chatbot rival ChatGPT, have been open about the limitations of their technology, admitting that it can sometimes provide plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers to people’s questions.
The company is owned by Microsoft, whose share price is up 6 percent over the past week. Market analysts believe the recent growth is due to the launch of ChatGPT.
Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities said in a client note Tuesday, referring to Microsoft’s CEO, “This OpenAI investment/strategic partnership, which is likely to be in the $10 billion range, we believe is a game changer for Nadella. & co.”
John Kleeman, founder of online exam website Questionmark, told The Telegraph in December: “As a technology it’s fantastically impressive, it really shows us how AI is going to change the world.”
Some training data from OpenAI for ChatGPT includes the entire English-language content of Wikipedia, eight years of web pages scraped from the public Internet, and scans of English-language books.
Google is believed to have used similar data sources to develop Bard, though the company hasn’t disclosed how the software has been trained to generate its responses and search summaries.