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I Tried Gemini AI to Plan Mother’s Day Last-Minute. It Took a Weird Turn

Part of the allure around using artificial intelligence is the near-irresistible prospect of getting whatever you’re trying to do right in record time. For instance: Are you so unprepared for Mother’s Day that you just now Googled “Mother’s Day 2024” and found this article? Consider letting AI take the pressure off you to personalize an impossible-to-forget day for the mom who matters most to you. 

The woman I call mom happens to be all the way across the country from me in a small town called Battle Creek, Michigan — also known as the birthplace of Corn Flakes. It’s a lovely little spot that’s home to the original Kellogg’s factory and, according to local lore, the air sometimes smells of powdered sugar after a heavy rain. 

That’s about all this California native knows about Battle Creek, and I know even less about what would make for a special Mother’s Day in the area. 

Enter AI, wielding comprehensive knowledge of both everything to do in this tiny town in Michigan and (hopefully) informed knowledge of what a British woman recovering from shoulder surgery who loves country markets and interior design and architecture would like to do. 

Since I’m not familiar with the area, and since the family local to my mother-in-law suggested taking her to a restaurant that serves nothing but soup (yes, they were going to take her to a literal soup kitchen for Mother’s Day), I was hoping Google’s Gemini tool (formerly Bard) would do the trick.

Gemini has had its hiccups (here’s CNET’s hands-on review of Gemini, as well as other generative AI tools Claude, ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot), but was recently updated to integrate other Google products like Google Maps local information associated with its pins and places. It may also be integrated into iPhones soon.

I figured it might work wonders for someone planning a celebration from afar. 

Trying Gemini to plan local fun: the prompt

If you have an account associated with Google, working with Gemini is as simple as opening the tool in Chrome and inputting your needs in the prompt field. 

You want to be as specific as possible, but since I didn’t have a whole lot of information about what’s on offer in Battle Creek, I kept it focused on close-by events and locations and gave it a broad idea of who my mother-in-law is and what she’s into. 

The chatbot really homed in on her being a British ex-pat and assumed she’d be pining for the pleasures of her homeland, immediately suggesting a breakfast in bed with kippers and baked beans. Just what every mother wants to tuck into first thing in the morning: aged, spatchcocked fish and canned beans in tomato sauce.

Screenshot by CNET

More specifics, less kippers

Breakfast in bed is a great, classic Mother’s Day idea, but it doesn’t have anything to do with local offerings. I also forgot to tell the tool about her arm being in a sling, so I asked it to take her recent surgery into account with the hope it would suggest places that avoid a long, bumpy car ride.

This was when the chatbot delivered on the potential of its integration with Google Maps, showing me a variety of options specific to the Battle Creek area aimed at her taste in cozy country living and capitalizing on her British background. 

Kind of.

Some answers were clearly hallucinations: Gemini suggested a local baked goods store called The Bake Shop on the Avenue, but a quick Google search revealed the tool might be confusing this bake shop, which doesn’t exist, with The Cake House on Michigan Avenue, a newly installed cannabis dispensary specializing in sweet edibles. 

My mother-in-law is a very hip woman, but taking her to a weed store on Mother’s Day might be pushing it.

One last try with all we learned

After Gemini suggested canned food and cannabis for Mother’s Day (suddenly soup isn’t sounding too bad), I started a new prompt incorporating all I learned, leaning into local solutions and keeping extraneous details, like what kind of home my mother-in-law lives in, to a minimum. This adjustment led to the best results thus far, and triggered the Google Maps extension.

Screenshot by CNET Screenshot by CNET Screenshot by CNET

Picks like Clara’s on the River and a local spa with a five-star rating on Google Maps (optional CBD-enhanced massages available) were welcome suggestions and exactly what I was looking for. The map also provided an overview of potential routes.

Should you let Gemini plan Mother’s Day?

Farming out the brainpower necessary to plan a day of frivolity for your favorite mommy figure in a faraway location with a Google Maps-integrated AI tool honestly might save you a ton of time, especially when that mommy doesn’t live in a major metropolis. 

Things to watch out for are the hallucinations associated with generative AI, like basing recommendations on small bits of information that may be outdated or confusing to a disembodied large language model, leading to potentially embarrassing assumptions about the particulars of certain freshly legalized businesses. (For more tips and explainers to help with this, check out CNET’s AI Atlas resource page.)

Also pay attention to what your main goal is. If it’s to find a gift, check out CNET’s top health and fitness gifts for Mother’s Day or this list of last-minute gifts for expert advice from humans who know the difference between a weed store and a bakery.

In this case, the goal was to offer my mother-in-law something a little more exciting than soup (no offense to my father- and brothers-in-law) and the results fit that purpose nicely.

Editors’ note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you’re reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.

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