Alphabet earlier this week witnessed a loss of $163bn (£140bn) in market value, after a video demo of Google’s rival to the Microsoft-backed ChatGPT chatbot contained a flawed response.

The factual error in the promotional video for the Google AI chatbot Bard, saw investors wipe $106bn (£87.5bn) off the value of the search engine’s parent company, Alphabet.

And matters have not improved much two later, as Alphabet’s share price is still down at $95.46, as of 1pm GMT Friday. This represents a loss of market value of about $163bn (£140bn) since Wednesday.

Image credit: Google

Factual error

So what exactly did the Google AI chatbot Bard get wrong?

Well investors took fright when a video promotion during the launch of Bard contained a flawed response to a question about NASA’s James Webb space telescope.

The Guardian noted that the animation showed a response from Bard, stating that the JWST “took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our own solar system”, prompting astronomers to point out this was untrue.

Image credit: Google

Google reportedly said the error underlined the need for the “rigorous testing” that Bard is undergoing before a wider release to the public, which had been scheduled for the coming weeks.

A presentation of Google’s AI-backed search plans on Wednesday also failed to reassure shareholders, the Guardian reported.

Microsoft competition

It comes after Microsoft, which is a key investor and backer of ChatGPT’s developer OpenAI, this week revealed it was integrating the chatbot’s technology into its Bing search engine, as well as its Edge web browser.

New Bing offers an interactive chat experience. This query shows someone asking if an IKEA couch will fit in the back of their car.
Image credit Microsoft

Google it should be noted also plans to integrate the AI technology behind Bard into its search engine.

Google of course is the dominant search engine in the world, with as estimated 90 percent market share compared to Bing’s 3 percent, according to the data firm SimilarWeb.

But Microsoft has reportedly told investors that every percentage point gain in market share equates to about $2bn in extra advertising revenue.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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