Google’s experimental AI chatbot, Bard, did not receive the warm response it might have been expecting — a promo ad for the product carried an embarrassing factual error and the company’s stock price was battered in its wake. The Paris reveal event also drew flak from the company’s employees for being a “rushed” and “botched” job.
Now the chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is saying that the tech giant may have even hesitated to launch the technology.
“I think Google was hesitant to productize this because it didn’t think it was really ready for a product yet, but, I think, as a demonstration vehicle, it’s a great piece of technology,” John Hennessy said while speaking at the TechSurge conference on Monday, CNBC reported.
He added Google was slow to introduce Bard because it was still giving wrong answers. Google unveiled Bard amid intense interest in rival chatbot ChatGPT, and just a day before Microsoft rolled out its AI-powered Bing search engine which is built using technology from OpenAI, the parent of ChatGPT.
Hennessy also cautioned on Monday that AI chatbots are still in their early stages of development. And he is not alone — Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and OpenAI cofounder and CEO Sam Altman have expressed similar concerns.
“I think these models are still in the early days — figuring out how to bring them into a product stream and do it in a way that’s sensitive to correctness, as well as issues like toxicity,” Hennessey told CNBC on Monday. “I think the industry is struggling with that.”
Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s search engine boss, also told the Welt Am Sonntag newspaper on Saturday that AI chatbots can generate false but convincing answers in a phenomenon known as “hallucination.”
Google learned the hard way how badly this can turn out. Alphabet’s share price crashed 9% last Wednesday after reports emerged that it had given out an incorrect response to a question about NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
At the conference, Hennessy declined to comment specifically on the public’s reaction to Google’s Bard, per CNBC.
Google did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.