Google says people should use its search engine to check whether information provided by its chatbot, Bard, is actually accurate.
Some have suggested chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT could “kill” traditional search, which is dominated by Google.
But users have found the information they provide can be wrong or even entirely made up.
Google’s UK boss Debbie Weinstein said Bard was “not really the place that you go to search for specific information”.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, she said Bard should be considered an “experiment” best suited for “collaboration around problem solving” and “creating new ideas”.
“We’re encouraging people to actually use Google as the search engine to actually reference information they found,” she said.
Ms Weinstein pointed out users had the opportunity to give feedback on the answers Bard gave them via thumbs up or thumbs down buttons.
Bard’s homepage does also clearly state it has “limitations and won’t always get it right”, but doesn’t repeat Ms Weinstein’s advice that all results should be checked using an orthodox search engine.
When ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022, it prompted people to question whether Google’s incredibly lucrative search business could be under threat.
It also fuelled a wider debate about how artificial intelligence (AI) – which powers chatbots – could reshape the world of work or even threaten the future of humanity, sparking a global AI regulatory race.
Others have suggested the threat AI poses has been exaggerated and the debate around it has become hysterical – an argument that Google’s concession that Bard cannot even be trusted to perform basic search tasks would appear to bolster.
Many people, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have also pointed to the economic opportunities AI offers.
But Google says many people currently don’t know how to pursue them.
It has released a report saying search interest in AI reached an all-time high in the UK in the first half of 2023, with the most searched “how to” question being “how to make money with AI”. It says “how can AI help a business?” also featured prominently.
To help address that lack of knowledge it is launching a free online training series called New Fundamentals, which it says can give people and businesses “practical skills and knowledge to capture the incredible benefits of AI”.
In the report the tech giant also highlights what it calls “a critical lack of tech skills in the UK”, which – if unaddressed – will “remain a stubborn barrier to equitable nation-wide growth, especially as demand for AI and other tech expertise soars”.