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Bard Costs Google $100 Billion

James Capell
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Bard
Image Credit: Google

This week Google unveiled Bard, a chatbot to rival ChatGPT that threatens the tech giant’s search services. Unfortunately, Bard made a costly error that wiped billions of Google’s market value.

Over the last few years Microsoft has invested heavily in ChatGPT and recently integrated it into Bing. The chatbot can answer questions in a conversational manner and help users avoid the drudge of sponsored results, SEO optimised content that is not relevant and the need to figure out the answer themselves. The chatbot could change search as we know it and severely impact revenue for search engines.

In the latest move in the AI arms race between the two behemoths, Google released Bard. Unfortunately, Bard made a factual error in promotional material released by Google on Twitter which was quickly ridiculed on the internet.

Bard was asked, “what new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9 year old about?” in the reply Bard said, “JWST took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system”.

Bard Error Cost Google 10 Times the Cost to Develop the James Webb Space Telescope

Internet users were quick to point out that the first telescope to take such pictures was the Very Large Telescope in 2004. It’s the first time the release of an AI chatbot has caused embarrassment for a tech giant. In 2016 Microsoft unveiled a chatbot named Tay on Twitter that was quickly taken down after it started tweeting misogynistic and racist remarks.

A Google spokesperson said, “This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program,”

“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.”

Google’s response was not enough to reverse the damage and in the few days that followed the search giant’s market value shrank by $100 billion. Despite Google’s early advancements in AI such as DeepMind that caused a stir when AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol in 2016, Microsoft now seem considerably ahead in the game.

While Bard error has been damaging for Google, there is time to win back confidence. Google say, “We’re releasing it initially with our lightweight model version of LaMDA. This much smaller model requires significantly less computing power, enabling us to scale to more users, allowing for more feedback. 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. We’re excited for this phase of testing to help us continue to learn and improve Bard’s quality and speed.”

The world seems poised in anticipation for the changes that AI could bring to our lives. There are some concerns but at least its entertaining watching two tech giants battle it out in the AI arms race.

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James Capell

James Capell

Technical editor and journalist. I have a particularly strong interest in NLP, AI ethics and cyber crime. Not too fond of cats.

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