Google Stock Tumbles Nearly 8% After Bard Ad Shows Inaccurate Answer, AI Race Heats Up

Alphabet (GOOGL) crashed Wednesday after Google’s parent company ran a new ad for artificial intelligence chatbot Bard, providing incorrect answers. Google’s stock price fell about one-eighth of an advertising fluke.  

Google posted a video on Twitter showing an “experimental conversational AI service powered by LaMDA.” LaMDA is his language model from Google for conversational applications that applies machine learning to chatbots, allowing chatbots to conduct “free-flowing” conversations.

In the ad, the bard is asked, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I teach my 9-year-old child?”

The bard quickly rattles him off with two correct answers. However, his last answer was inaccurate. Bard writes that the telescope has taken the first photo of a planet outside our solar system. In fact, NASA records show that the first images of these “exoplanets” were taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope.

Google touted the new technology at an event in Paris on Wednesday, announcing plans to release AI-powered search results and maps, The Wall Street Journal reported. This new feature generates long text answers for complex questions, similar to ChatGPT. The company says it will roll out the feature once it feels confident in the quality of the responses.

Other features include video and image search, 3D Google Maps, and more. According to the WSJ, it’s also possible to create virtual tours of building interiors based on two-dimensional imagery. 

In a research note on Wednesday, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said Microsoft is winning the early AI PR sprint. But the marathon is just beginning, he warned.

Microsoft is a major shareholder in AI competitor OpenAI, which operates the chatbot ChatGPT. Additionally, on January 23rd, Microsoft announced a multi-billion dollar investment in his OpenAI. The tech giant didn’t want to name a specific amount at the time.

The company also announced a new version of its Bing search engine this week. This is behind Google, the dominant player in the Bing market. Microsoft plans to power Bing with the same AI technology used in ChatGPT.

Google’s scale, engineering, cloud resources, and AI capabilities give Google a long-term competitive advantage. It is also well-positioned to benefit from the next generation of AI, writes Sebastian. He maintained his $120 price target on Google stock at an overweight rating.

But Google has sounded the alarm that chatbots could upend its business model, The New York Times reported in his late December report. An unnamed Google executive expressed concern that text-heavy query results would hurt advertising and e-commerce revenue, which accounted for his 77% of the company’s revenue last quarter.  

Google shares fell 7.7% to close at 99.37. On the other hand, Microsoft (MSFT) posted a modest gain with a modest drop to 266.73. 

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