Google Chatbot Bard Falters, Losing Ground to Rival Microsoft’s ChatGPT

Alphabet Inc

Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, suffered a major setback when its newly launched chatbot, Bard, shared inaccurate information in a promotional video. The error caused a sharp drop in the company’s market value, raising concerns that it is losing ground to rival Microsoft Corp in the race to dominate the AI chatbot market.

Bard’s error triggers a sharp drop in Alphabet’s market value

During the presentation on its new AI chatbot, Bard, an error was discovered by the news agency Reuters. In a short GIF video posted on Twitter, Bard was shown in action, promising to simplify complex topics. However, the chatbot gave an inaccurate answer in response to the prompt: “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my 9-year-old about?”

Bard’s response included the suggestion that JWST was used to take the very 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 error triggered a sharp drop in Alphabet’s market value, with shares plunging as much as 9% during Wednesday’s trading session, before settling at 7.68% lower. This setback comes after Alphabet’s stock lost 40% in value last year, though it has rallied 15% since the beginning of 2023.

ChatGPT’s success adds to Alphabet’s concerns

The announcement of Bard’s debut followed the success of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence-based chatbot launched by Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI in November. ChatGPT had taken the tech world by storm for its human-like responses.

Apart from the error, the fact that Microsoft had already released a version of its Bing search with ChatGPT functions integrated, a day before Google’s presentation, added to the concerns. While Google has been a leader in AI innovation for several years, analysts believe that they have fallen behind in implementing this technology into its search product.

Google plans rigorous testing for Bard

To address the concerns, Google has announced that it is kicking off a rigorous testing process, starting with its Trusted Tester program, to ensure that Bard’s responses meet a high bar for quality, safety, and groundedness in real-world information.

The search giant has not revealed how or when it will integrate Bard into its core search function. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s shares rose around 3% on Wednesday and settled flat in post-market trading, indicating that the company remains a step ahead of Google in the AI chatbot race.

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