Google’s Bard chatbot made a factual mistake in a demo video released days before a high-profile launch event in Paris on Wednesday.
While the AI bot is still in testing, it is being billed as a competitor to the Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, a wildly popular AI with its own set of problems.
In a promotional video released by Google on Monday, a user asks Bard “what new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my 9-year-old about?” The AI returns a number of answers, including one stating that the telescope “took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system.”
As astrophysicist Grant Tremblay pointed out on Twitter, that answer was wrong. The first such image was taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004, he wrote, stating that while “spookily impressive,” AI chatbots are “often very confidently wrong.”
The mistake was noticed immediately before Google unveiled Bard at an event in Paris on Wednesday morning, with the company’s value plummeting by 8% as news of the error spread.
Artificial intelligences like Bard do not deliver accurate results to every question. As they pore over trillions of pages of words and figures created by humans, they predict the most likely answers to a question or prompt.
Microsoft noted this when announcing on Tuesday that its Bing search engine would come with ChatGPT – developed on the Microsoft-funded OpenAI platform – built in.
“Bing is powered by AI, so surprises and mistakes are possible,” a disclaimer from the company reads.