What's the AI Gaffe That Proved Costly for Google's Parent Firm on Wall Street?

Over $100 billion was wiped out in the market value of Alphabet Inc, as per reports.

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What's the AI Gaffe That Proved Costly for Google's Parent Firm on Wall Street?

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(This article is a part of 'AI Told You So', a special series by The Quint that takes a closer look at the possibilities unlocked by Artificial Intelligence in various sectors and walks of life, where the technology stands today, and the challenges ahead.)

Google's new AI chatbot dropped the ball and its parent company had to pay the price.

In a nutshell: The AI conversational model called Bard shared inaccurate information in a video posted by Google, Reuters reported on Thursday, 9 February.

  • The video showed Bard responding to the prompt, "What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my 9-year old about?"

  • Bard's reply suggested that JWST was the first satellite to capture a planet lying outside the Earth's solar system, the report said

Yes, but: According to NASA, the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) was first to take photos of exoplanets back in 2004.

Bad timing? The error on Bard's part was reportedly realised prior to Google's presentation on the AI chatbot.

  • The presentation was live streamed on Wednesday, 8 February

  • It lacked details on the exact role that Bard would play in Google Search, as per Reuters

  • On the other hand, Microsoft also showed off its new version of search engine Bing that has reportedly been imbibed with ChatGPT powers.


The fallout: Over $100 billion was wiped out in Alphabet's market value on Wednesday, according to the report.

  • Its shares also declined by 9 percent but was reportedly trading flat after a few hours.

  • Alphabet reported a disappointing fourth quarter due to drop in advertiser spending

  • Share prices of Microsoft, however, increased by 3 percent before flattening out

What they're saying: "Google has been scrambling over the last few weeks to catch up on Search and that caused the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) to be rushed and the embarrassing mess up of posting a wrong answer during their demo," senior software analyst Gil Luria was quoted as saying.

  • "People are starting to question is Microsoft going to be a formidable competitor now against Google's really bread-and-butter business [but] I think still Bing is a far, far cry away from Google's search capabilities," executive at an investment and wealth management firm King Lip told Reuters.


Elephant in the chat room: ChatGPT, another revolutionary LLM chatbot developed by Open AI and backed by Microsoft, triggered panic bells at Google after its release in November last year.

  • Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have reportedly been roped in so that Google has a horse in the race

  • With ChatGPT, the larger public started to take notice of the real-life applications of such AI models

  • As a result, it has renewed interest among big tech companies and investors who are looking to get in the game

Course correction: "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," a Google spokesperson said in reference to the AI gaffe.

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Topics:  Alphabet   Alphabet Inc   Wall Street 

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