Dec 9 2023

AI truthiness

Charlie Stross decided to ask Google Bard about a subject he’s a world expert on, i.e. himself.

It started out well, but repeating the request took us to some very strange places:

From the first batch of five responses…

• He is a prolific writer. Stross has written over 30 novels, novellas and short stories, including the Laundry Files series of fantasy novels, the Merchant Princes series of alternate history novels, and the Halting State series of near-future science fiction novels.


From the second batch of five responses…

• He is a fan of whisky. Stross is a well-known whisky connoisseur and has written extensively about whisky on his blog. He has also been interviewed on several whisky podcasts and has appeared on several whisky-related television programs.

False. Bard is straight up confusing me with Iain Banks. (I like the occasional nip of whisky, that’s all.)

From the third batch of five responses…

• He is a polyglot. Stross speaks several languages, including English, German, French, and Russian. This fluency has allowed him to read and enjoy works of science fiction from around the world.

False. (I’m a monoglot—my only language is English.)

The Stross verdict: Bard initially offers up reality-adjacent tidbits, but once it runs out of information it has no brakes and no guardrails: it confabulates without warning and confidently asserts utter nonsense.”