This week, we awaited with great expectation the presentation of Google’s new artificial intelligence. Its new AI: Bard, based on the LaMDA language system, is the company’s champion under the Alphabet umbrella to take on ChatGPT, OpenAI‘s AI.
The motivation (or desperation) on Google’s part to bring this search AI to market has been growing ever since it became known that Microsoft itself had invested several billion dollars in OpenAI, and reached its zenith just a day before Bard’s unveiling, after announcing Prometheus, a search AI for Bing and Edge.
To this theft of prominence by their competition, we should add a major flaw that Alphabet and Google committed in their promotional material, and that has cost them dearly (literally speaking).
In a Google blog entry where Bard is advertised and the benefits of this new language model are discussed, several examples of answers to simple questions on various topics were published. One of the questions that could be seen was “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old son?”. The question, as will be observed, includes a certain interpretive subjectivity that a normal search engine could not handle.
One of the answers to the question about the NASA telescope says “JWST took the first images of a planet outside our own solar system”. And… no, it is not true. The first image taken in the history of mankind of an exoplanet was captured by the Very Large Telescope in Chile, in the year 2044.
The glitch, which might seem minor for an AI that is just taking its first steps (and whose training sources include Wikipedia and similar sites, where a user-generated typo can slip in), caused Alphabet’s share price to plummet.
From $106.77 to $98.98 (the low point of trading this past Wednesday), the market value of Google’s parent company dropped so low that a single glitch cost it a whopping $120 billion. And, all this, on the same day that the official presentation of AI took place.
It hasn’t been one of Google’s best starts, although looking closely at some of its more recent business failures, it wouldn’t be by far one of the company’s biggest mistakes either.