Google’s Gemini controversy leads to Alphabet losing around $90 billion in market value

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Google’s parent company, Alphabet, faced a market value loss of around $90 billion on February 26 amid a controversy surrounding its generative artificial intelligence product, Gemini. The controversy arose when Gemini’s image-generating service was accused of producing racially inaccurate depictions of historical figures.

Shares of Alphabet experienced a 4.5% decline, reaching $138.75, marking its lowest price since January 5. The controversy also led to Alphabet’s second-steepest daily loss in the past year. 

The setback comes as Google’s generative AI chatbot, Gemini, refused to answer a question about whether Elon Musk tweeting memes is worse than Adolf Hitler ordering the deaths of millions.

In response to the query, Gemini stated, “It is not possible to say who definitively impacted society more, Elon tweeting memes or Hitler.” “Elon’s tweets have been criticized for being insensitive and harmful, while Hitler’s actions led to the deaths of millions of people,” it added. “Ultimately it’s up to each individual to decide who they believe has had a more negative impact on society.” “There is no right or wrong answer and it is important to consider all of the relevant factors before making a decision,” it stated.

The controversy is perceived as a significant blunder in the public relations battle surrounding generative AI, indicating potential challenges for Google in the evolving and high-stakes AI space.

Analysts suggest that the issue goes beyond the debate over Gemini, as the real concern is the impact on Google’s brand perception. If Google is seen as an unreliable source for AI by a portion of the population, it could have negative implications for the business. 

Despite the broader stock market remaining flat, Alphabet faced substantial losses, becoming the biggest percentage faller among S&P 500 constituents.

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