back to article Google's AI search bot Bard makes $120b error on day one

About 10 percent of Alphabet's market value – some $120 billion – was wiped out this week after Google proudly presented Bard, its answer to Microsoft's next-gen AI offerings, and the system bungled a simple question. In a promotional video to show off Bard, a web search assistant to compete against Microsoft's ChatGPT- …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Disinformation overload

    If information overload equals pattern recognition, then what does disinformation overload equal?

    Besides FB and Twitter.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Disinformation overload

      Flat-earthlers, moon-landing deniers, MMS-believers and quite a few other which lost the ability to detect bullshit and cannot find the way back out of the hole they fell in. Quite a chunk of lost humans, sadly.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Disinformation overload

      > If information overload equals pattern recognition, then what does disinformation overload equal?

      It means people should be bard from using it...

  2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Top of hype reached, I'd say...

    The so called AI was already exposing its weakness by not being actually intelligent. But now it screams it loudly into the web: "I am dumb, and I am proud of it!".

    Pattern recognition is, up to now, the only thing that somehow works, though actually useful in niche where the training data is very good. Known best example is cancer (and similar) detection, or LSD simulation where "detect eyes" or "detect ducks" training data is applied to normal videos.

    Reproducing something out of an input is the current limit as those picture creators show - but inherently they are stealing from source pictures. It is still a pattern search-match-and-mix, but calling it AI is quite a stretch.

    As for text: Nice for playing, but the results show no actual intelligence, exposing the weakness of AI. Showing that there is no intelligence, only pretending to be so. Something we see a lot in humans as well. The leftpondians suffer from the fact that "free speech" is abused to spread bullshit on a level that many gave up on expecting truth from anyone - something where Germany has to suffer less from thanks to some enforced laws after World War 2.

    Maybe it is time for a US lawsuit that companies do not have the right of "free speech and opinion" as humans do. Reverting a famous "Fox News" lawsuit where they, practically, won the right to spread lies of the worst kind under the cover of "free speech and opinion". There are several Southpark episodes where, as usual, Eric Cartman exposes that logic.

    1. PghMike

      Re: Top of hype reached, I'd say...

      Pretty good summary -- these things are pattern matchers, and surprisingly good ones when fed enough data. But they're also quite fragile when fed less than immense amounts of data, as you can never tell exactly what features their recognizers have glommed onto. In all likelihood, you will be surprised sometime in the future when they fail on something obvious.

      ChatGPT is worse. It looks smart, but it doesn't really have a good model for the world, so it often ends up just making stuff up. And it doesn't even know that's what it's doing. Bummer that Google's demo screwed up visibly, but really, this stuff isn't ready for prime time with either Google's or Microsoft's technology. Not even close.

      1. thosrtanner

        Re: Top of hype reached, I'd say...

        It might be a bummer for google it screwed up visibly. As far as I can see, the real bummer is that Microsof't bot hasn't also screwed up visibly so people are going to carry on as if chat bots were the answer to all humanities problems.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Top of hype reached, I'd say...

          Are the developers of these models aware of the old saying 'garbage in, garbage out'?

          It takes ten or more years to train a human to be even vaguely critical of what it is being taught - and even then, some of them never make it... why would one expect statistics to do any better?

          1. Alumoi Silver badge

            Re: Top of hype reached, I'd say...

            Because lies, damned lies, and statistics.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: real bummer is that Microsof't bot hasn't also screwed up visibly

          three days later: a granny is fed 10l dose (as recommended by GPT), grows seven arms, family sue MS for 'emotional distress' valued at 15 bn. (starting bid)

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Top of hype reached, I'd say...

        I had a go with chatgpt:

        Jamie Landeg Jones (Welsh Git)

        What's the speed of gravity?

        The speed of gravity is the speed at which a gravitational field or gravitational force travels through space. It is considered to be infinite, meaning that it travels instantly and simultaneously to every point in space. This is because gravity is a long-range force that acts between massive objects, such as stars and planets, regardless of the distance between them. The speed of gravity does not depend on the distance between objects or on the time it takes for the field or force to travel from one object to another. Instead, it is an inherent property of the force of gravity itself, which always acts instantly and uniformly throughout the universe.

        Jamie Landeg Jones (Welsh Git)

        That can't be correct. It most likely travels at the speed of light.

        Yes, you are correct. The speed of gravity is generally considered to be equal to the speed of light. This is because gravitational forces and gravitational fields travel at the speed of light. This means that if two massive objects were suddenly to change their position relative to each other, the change in the gravitational field would propagate through space at the speed of light, and the change in the gravitational force between the objects would be immediately reflected in their motion.

        It is worth noting that the exact nature of gravity and how it is related to other physical phenomena, such as space-time and the fabric of the universe, is still a subject of ongoing research and investigation by scientists and physicists. Despite the progress that has been made in our understanding of gravity, many aspects of it remain mysterious and the subject of ongoing debate and study.

        Jamie Landeg Jones (Welsh Git)

        Didn't you just contradict yourself?

        Yes, I apologize for the mistake in my previous answer. The speed of gravity is indeed equal to the speed of light. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Although "it's not clear when it'll be generally available yet."

    It seems pretty clear that we will realize exactly when they turn it on based on likely hilarious and embarrassing impact on the output.

    Hilariously these results were entirely foreseeable, but the people on these projects can never seem to find the brakes even when they can see the cliff they are about to go over.

    Sometimes the bubble just has to pop, and going into a recession seems as good a time as any. Fake AI has been the king of the hill for the valley's self delusions for a couple years now. Blockchain is no longer sexy, time to shuffle on to the Next Big Thing.

    Funny though that this is Google's response to a challenge to their ad dominance. They have been on a decades long project to return the crappiest search results possible, destroying their own technical lead and making their search results as bad as the competition. All Bing needed was to re-implement Google's search results circa the mid aughts, and they could start clawing back market share.

  4. Lil Endian Silver badge

    Sorry, I don't want an interpretation of my search results, either by a human or some shonky software. I want the source. Can you imagine searching for "nhs amoxicillin side effects", sullied by that shite? No thanks!

    The article's Bard's screenie shows up vote and down vote buttons. Really? You want us to massage your ego while you're sourcing someone else's work without providing citations? You fucking narcissists!! Never mind the voter's credibility, it's a popularity contest, with social media "you're part of the gang" good feelz. On yer bike.

  5. Peter Prof Fox

    Amateur -v- expert

    I've asked ChatGPT for fancy poetry and programming tasks. Very impressed. Especially when I'm rusty, I'd be struggling with quotes and comas in the right places and so on. But what it gives isn't a finished thing. If it's given you say a cool bash script in one minute then most likely you'll go 'Oh. Maybe I should have asked a slightly different question.' Then with the slog done, I'm free to manually upgrade that work to a finished thing. Just because 'It's that magic AI' doesn't mean there's no need to check and test.

    The poetry is at the 90% of humans would struggle to do so badly. ie. Tedious verse but definitely a good first attempt. AI is also good at suggesting ideas in some sort of structure. "Draw me a fox on a horse in the style of a woodcut" gives half a dozen suggestions in a minute or two. That's planted a few creative seeds I can explore as I hit the ground running. AI isn't like a coffee machine where you press some buttons and you get the finished cup, it's a recipe book where you start from. Use your own parameters to adjust to your needs and add your own special sauce.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Amateur -v- expert

      The best place to havbe a coma is in a hospital, as they will have the facilities to care for you!

      --------------> Mine's the one with the Stephyscope in the pockect! (It's a tube with a picture of Steph taped to the end)

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Amateur -v- expert

        Well done karma!

        Throw in a joke about a speeling misteak ..... and you're bound to do one yourself! And not spot it until the 10 minutes are up!

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Amateur -v- expert


          Re: Karma is indeed a right bitch, did you not notice you actually made two speeling misteaks in your first comment replying to Peter Prof Fox’s post? :-)

          1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

            Re: Amateur -v- expert

            That's what happens when the 'W' word interferes with posting to elReg!

      2. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: Amateur -v- expert

        Introducing Mr & Mrs Scope, their daughter, Stephy and their son Telly...

        (I'm off to watch "The Dirty Dozen".)

  6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    <Brian Blessed voice>


    </Brian Blessed voice>

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      This is true. Current AI efforts are nowhere near beardy and shouty enough.

    2. Lil Endian Silver badge

      I shudder to imagine Melody Anderson following up with "Clippy, Clippy, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!"

    3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Unless you replaced it with the dolphin or the secretary from Japanese office version.

    4. J. Cook Silver badge

      ::cues up the theme to the 80's Flash Gordan movie ::






      IT'S A PROGRAM!!!

      ::SEGFAULT in 0x0deedb33f - PROGRAM HALTED ::

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        And all apologies to fans of Queen and the best comic book movie ever made*.

        (* No, seriously- It's over the top, there's COLOR instead of 50 shades of brown**, and enough wonderful scenery that even Brian Blessed (Giant Ham (WARNING: TV TROPES LINK)) couldn't fully chew, and lots of cheese to go with the ham. A fantastic movie for just turning one's brain off and watching the spectacle. )

        (** I would have liked the 2013 movie Man of Steel better if it had been in color.)

    5. Anonymous South African Coward

      EvilBinky is on its way, and it will oust Clippy, and will rule the world a la Megatron/Galvatron. Muhuhaha. Err. Oops.

      go visit for evilbinky

  7. Ian Mason

    To quote the ever relevant Nelson Muntz: Ha-ha!

    To quote the ever relevant Nelson Muntz: Ha-ha!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess at least one of the Bard developers was shorting Alphabet stock.

    1. Wyrdness

      Judging from the places I've worked, it's more likely to have been:

      Manglement: "Microsoft have just announced AI-based search. We need to demo the AI search prototype you're working on"

      Devs: "It's not ready to be shown publicly yet. There's still a lot of issues with it"

      Manglement: "Demo it anyway"

      1. Juillen 1

        I'd suspect that it follows the main rule. "Just make sure it doesn't offend anyone. Truth and accuracy are secondary objectives."

  9. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    We're doomed

    "If Microsoft and Google are to use AI chatbots as the new user interface for web search, they better make sure their technology generates factual up-to-date information if they want people to use it."

    Was that sentence written by an AI chatbot? Because it seems to be chock full of misinformation. (A) They can't make sure. (B) They will each roll out their chatbot anyway, because competition. (C) People will use it even knowing it is not 100% reliable, because it looks reliable _enough_. People put up with crap search results today, they will put up with crap AI tomorrow.

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: We're doomed

      It'll probably go the same way voice input in day to day use, touchscreens on big laptops, personalised adverts , sponsored Google search results and 3d TV sets went. Only a handful of people actually find them useful.

      Actually, for personalised adverts and Sponsored Google search results make that no-one.

  10. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    The difference between a search engine and a chatbot

    I guess a lot of people who want easy answers (and don't necessarily care about accuracy or even correctness) may be impressed. When I search for information on the web I don't look for an answer, I look for references. I will figure out correctness and accuracy myself then.

    I guess from my PoV substituting an answer for references may well be worth $120B less in market value. It's not often that the markets agree with my assessments of value, but when it happens it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    How to make money from nothing. It’s not difficult if following a set of instruction .

    Oh please, don't you yet realise how parasitic ambulance-chasing market makers and traders turn a profit after manufacturing and factoring in a contrived inconsequential disaster.

    Pick a valuable stock and wait for a novel opportunity/new beta product

    Highlight and criticise an anomaly during a session of valuable stock sale.

    Stock price drops.

    Anomaly then realised to be human error related so deprecated stock bought back at lower price, which delivers a market maker's/trader's profit, and stock price rises again because of returning interest and stock market maker and trader support.

    That's the wash and churn. Rinse and repeat and there you have it, the ponzi stock and dodgy financial markets in a nutshell.

  12. richardcox13


    The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite defines BARD as Big Annex of Reference Documents.

    This seems too much of a coincidence?

    (Mine's the one with a copy of RFC 2795 in the pocket.)

  13. Dizzy Dwarf

    Parry + Eliza

    Just sellotape the handsets speaker-to-mike and let them get on with it, already.

    1. Juillen 1

      Re: Parry + Eliza

      I tried that, and Mike punched me. He's still complaining about removing all the sellotape from his hair.

  14. m-k

    software answered a science question incorrectly

    oh well, what's 120 bn. between friends, will recover and add a couple by end of week ;)

  15. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    natural language

    I think I'd rather just type in a few keywords to get an accurate and useful result than add all the grammer to make it a proper sentance. But I suppose they're heading towards voice interaction with all the problems that has in an office.

  16. Bugfix

    Oh, so eighties!

    All these new chatbots are only ELIZAs on steroids.

  17. Craig 2

    So now a Wikipedia search is likely to be more accurate than a Google search.... and this is progress?!

  18. Death Boffin

    Nomative determinism

    So a bard is one who tells tall tales of hero, battles and true love. Seems that the name fits.

    Of course being the internet, it should have been called Grimm.

  19. that one in the corner Silver badge

    They should spend more time watching Youtube

    Only 2 weeks ago Brady Haran's "Sixty Symbols" showed ChatGPT being challenged with Physics questions with less than perfect results: "ChatGPT does Physics - Sixty Symbols"

    I think that chap was a bit generous with his marking as well!

    BTW should one assume that Google had done a rehearsal of this question before capturing this sample output? So either they didn't bother checking the answer first time (!) or they hadn't noticed that asking the same question twice gave different answers! Either way, a remarkably stupid thing to release in a demo!

    Did they just ask Bard if it felt it was ready? "I have great enthusiasm for this mission".

  20. Jonathan Richards 1

    Missing sources

    I fairly well remember writing in these august pages, about a slightly different matter: "When someone tells me something on the Internet, I ask myself, 'Who is telling me this?' and 'Why are they telling me?'" Now, a Google™ search, while laden with false drops and adverts, does answer both those questions - it shows me exactly which sources it thinks match my query, and demonstrates very easily that I have to dig around a bit to get past the sponsored stuff and SEO to find things that (based on the words in it) are about the topic I want. As far as I can see, Bing and Bard, in serving up Large Language Model output, are going to be unable to say what the sources are, or why the Allegedly Intelligent back-end thinks that its output is relevant. That they can be simply inaccurate is deeply unsurprising.

  21. willyslick

    "The above error somehow made it past Google's various engineering, legal, PR, and marketing depts, and found its way into a demo of Bard, right when issues of accuracy and trust are at the top of everyone's minds."

    The level of incompetence is mind-bending..I thought at first this was a live demo, but in fact it seems to have been a pre-made video presentation, thus implying that all of the above had a chace to review it before it was published. And not a single one of them felt the need to sanity-check the information??? Youn can't make this stuff up.....

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "The above error somehow made it past Google's various engineering, legal, PR, and marketing depts, and found its way into a demo of Bard, right when issues of accuracy and trust are at the top of everyone's minds."

      Would this not imply that someone in some department is suspected of tampering with BARD output to make it look legitimate?

    2. Bebu

      Sanity optional

      "The level of incompetence is mind-bending..And not a single one of them felt the need to sanity-check the information??? Youn can't make this stuff up....."

      Donald Trump meets Max Headroom.

      This tech should be able to concoct absolute doozies of conspiracy theories. (As Hazel Burke might have put it.)

  22. Anonymous South African Coward
    Thumb Up

    That's a bit of a Bard start, isn't it?

    Beautiful punnery.

    Keep it up. Makes the day better.

  23. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

    Asking the new Bing

    about the answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything, I got 41.9999999 as an answer...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was working IT support when Bing was launched on Internet explorer. It was a disaster.

    I didn't trust it then, and I still don't, maybe I'm biased, IDGAF.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      So you were there when, from a perfect way to find service packs and updates, got changed to something which found nothing unless you used google with ?

      Before that change "office service pack" and so on always led to the newest expected update, and the second and third were the previous service packs. After that change: Fail. Still fail until today, unable to catch up. (Personal opinion: 'cause doing it half-assed does not work...)

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