Hey Google Bard, here's more about the first photographed exoplanet
Things went south for Google after it released a promotional clip for Bard—its AI chatbot—on February 7. The bot gave an incorrect answer when asked about the latest discoveries of the James Webb Space Telescope. As the news of the error got out, Alphabet's shares nosedived, wiping out $100 billion in market value. Here, we discuss what is wrong with the bot's answer.
Why does this story matter?
- Google Bard was released earlier this week. When compared to Microsoft-backed OpenAI's ChatGPT, which has been trained on data until 2021, Bard sources its information from the internet in real-time to generate responses.
- However, the factual error made by Bard does not reflect well on the conversational AI chatbot and raises questions about its credibility.
Here's what Bard replied to the question
Bard was asked, "What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old about?" In response, the bot mentioned three discoveries, one of which was: "JWST took the very first pictures of a planet outside of our solar system." This is incorrect. As per NASA, the first exoplanet was photographed by European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT).
Check out the promotional video for Bard posted by Google
VLT took the image of the first exoplanet in 2004
According to NASA, "2M1207b is the first exoplanet directly imaged and the first discovered orbiting a brown dwarf." VLT was the first to image an exoplanet in 2004. Bard's faulty answer was called out by Reuters, shortly before Google's "Live in Paris" AI event.
Webb discovered the exoplanet in January this year
So what was Bard referring to? The bot's answer was in regard to the first exoplanet that Webb discovered in January this year. Webb's discovery of LHS 475 b, is the first time that the telescope spotted an exoplanet in another planetary system. Perhaps the bot's answer should have been: JWST took its very first pictures of a planet outside of our solar system.
'Error highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process'
In response to Bard's mistake, a Google spokesperson told The Verge: "This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we're kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester program." "We'll combine external feedback with our own internal testing to make sure Bard's responses meet a high bar for quality, safety, and groundedness in real-world information," added the spokesperson.
FYI, the first-ever exoplanets were discovered in 1992
While the first image of an exoplanet was taken in 2004, scientists have known about exoplanets for a couple of decades before that. In 1992, astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail discovered the first-ever exoplanets. The two rocky planets, nicknamed Poltergeist and Phobetor, orbit around a rapidly spinning star, known as a pulsar which lies 2,300 light-years away from us in the constellation Virgo.