Google announced a slew of AI-powered features on Wednesday, but a typo in an ad caused its stock price to plummet.
Shares of Alphabet, Google parent company, fell nearly 8% after new artificial intelligence chatbot Bard provided inaccurate information, according to Reuters, following a Twitter advertisement for the service, which generates answers for user queries and is debuting to a small group of testers before a wider release, causing the company to lose $100 billion in market value.
The search engine behemoth is rushing into the space after the bot ChatGPT captured the attention of web users worldwide with its ability to generate essays, speeches, and even exam papers in seconds.
On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a multibillion-dollar partnership with ChatGPT maker OpenAI, as well as new products, while Google attempted to steal the march a day earlier by announcing its “Bard” alternative.
Bots are rapidly being integrated into search engines, and Google is fighting to maintain its two-decade dominance of the web search industry.
However, astronomers on Twitter quickly noticed that Google’s Bard had made an error in a tweet touting its new technology.
The bot was asked in the advertisement what to tell a nine-year-old about James Webb Space Telescope discoveries.
It incorrectly stated that the telescope was the first to photograph a planet outside of Earth’s solar system, when in fact the European Very Large Telescope holds that distinction.
The blunder sent the stock down more than 7% on Wednesday, with investors also underwhelmed by the latest announcements.
Prior to the issue, Google Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan stated at a Paris event that Bard was now being used by “trusted testers,” but he did not provide a timetable for a public release, which is expected within weeks.
Analysts speculated that Google rushed its announcement due to pressure from Microsoft, but Raghavan denied this.
“This has been a multiyear journey,” he explained, adding that no single event “dramatically changed the course” of Google’s plans.
Google executives announced several AI-driven product enhancements on Wednesday, including maps, translation, and its image recognition tool Lens.
Microsoft has also stated that AI will be integrated into its Office suite and Teams messaging app.
However, its promise to improve its much-maligned Bing search engine put it at odds with Google, which has dominated the field for two decades.
AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT, promise to provide users with ready-made answers from multiple sources, replacing the familiar list of links and ads that has been Google’s bread and butter for the past two decades.
According to media reports, Google designated ChatGPT’s overnight success as a “code red” threat, with founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page — who left several years ago — brought back to brainstorm ideas and expedite a response.
The pressure to act was heightened last week when Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced disappointing earnings and the layoff of 12,000 employees.