Business

Google published an online advert for its new AI chatbot Bard in which it delivered an inaccurate answer.

The company unveiled its much-anticipated rival to ChatGPT this week, and has launched a marketing blitz to prepare the public for its full rollout in the coming weeks.

A promotional tweet with a short GIF describes Bard as a “launchpad for curiosity” that will simplify complex topics.

Google believes it will change the way people search the web, as it can offer more detailed and conversational responses to queries rather than just a list of websites and links.

The question Bard was asked in the advert was: “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my nine-year-old about?”

Among its answers was that JWST was used to take the first pictures of a planet outside Earth’s solar system.

Unfortunately for Bard, the first pictures of such exoplanets were in fact taken by the Very Large Telescope in 2004.

Read more:
How AI could change the way we search the web

It’s an awkward mistake for the chatbot to have made, given one of the main concerns about these so-called large language models is whether their answers are as accurate as they are realistic.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which launched late last year amid much fanfare, has been found to sometimes talk just as confidently when it’s getting things wrong as when it’s getting things right.

Bard and Microsoft’s new Bing chatbot, also announced this week, are both designed to solve this issue by providing citations and keeping up to date with current affairs in real time.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the advert, which at the time of writing had been viewed more than one million times.

The error was spotted just hours before senior Google executives hosted an event in Paris, where the tech giant revealed more plans to expand the role of AI in its products.

Among them was a new “immersive view” for its Maps app, which allows users to point their phone camera at an area and have Google Street View-style icons and infographics show up as a digital overlay.

It’s available in a limited number of cities to start with, including London and New York.

Google is also increasing the number of indoor locations where Maps users can access augmented reality directions – again using their phone’s camera – by bringing the feature to airports, stations, and shopping centres in a number of new cities, including London.

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