Google’s parent company, Alphabet, saw a sharp drop in market value this week, losing $100 billion after its newly launched conversational bot, Bard, produced a factual error in an advertisement demo. The ad ran on Google’s Twitter feed and described Bard as “a launchpad for curiosity” and a search tool to help simplify complex topics. However, when prompted with a question about the James Webb Space Telescope, Bard claimed that it had taken the first pictures of exoplanets, which turned out to be incorrect. The European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope was actually the first to take pictures of these celestial bodies in 2004.
This misstep came just hours before Google’s senior executives presented Bard as the future of the company at a launch event in Paris. As a result of the error, Alphabet shares dropped as much as 9% during trading hours, while shares of Microsoft, Google’s rival, rose by 3%. This was due to Microsoft’s recent announcement that it would incorporate ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, into products like its Bing search engine.
Artificial intelligence technology has been all the rage in Silicon Valley lately, impressing investors and eliciting fear in writers for its ability to answer questions in a simple language format. However, ethicists warn that this technology also raises the risk of biased answers, plagiarism, and the spread of misinformation. This is because AI bots often state incorrect information as fact because they are designed to fill in gaps.
In recent months, the tech sector has experienced widespread job cuts, with Alphabet cutting about 6% of its global workforce, or 12,000 jobs, last month. Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated in a blog post that Bard will be exclusively available to trusted testers before its public release in the coming weeks.
The error by Bard highlights the importance of fact-checking and caution when it comes to relying on artificial intelligence. As AI continues to play a larger role in our lives, it is crucial to ensure that the information it provides is accurate and unbiased. While AI technology has the potential to make our lives easier and more convenient, it is essential that we remain vigilant about its limitations and potential risks.
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