Microsoft Bing, the search engine that has been engaged in a losing battle with Google since its 2009 launch, is set to incorporate ChatGPT in its search interface within a matter of weeks. ChatGPT is the advanced chatbot trained by OpenAI, capable of responding at length to both simple and complex queries.
The version to be incorporated with Bing is GPT-4, said to be much faster than GPT-3.5. The news follows Microsoft’s January announcement of a multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI.
Google is coming to the party. Not to be outdone, Google has said it will make its conversational AI service Bard, powered by its proprietary conversation technology LaMDA, more available in the coming weeks.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a new blog post:
“Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in Search that distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether that’s seeking out additional perspectives, like blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going deeper on a related topic, like steps to get started as a beginner, these features will be rolling out on Google Search soon.”
Why we care. AI-powered natural language generation (NLG) has been around for some years now. In the 2010s, enterprises were using it to produce (largely non-critical) documentation at scale. It has been used to generate email subject lines and content, and even by the U.K. weather service to expand the scale of its forecasting.
So what are we seeing over recent weeks? For one thing, the democratization of NLG as it seems poised to become widely and cheaply available — to the extent that there are concerns about students using it to create homework. And now we seem to be on the brink of NLG taking command of search. Search, of course, is of enormous importance to all marketers in the context of brand and product or service discovery, not just to SEOs.
Dig deeper: Why we care about search marketing
Where the rubber hits the road. Imagine — and Google has already produced mock-ups — a page of search results that kicks off not just with a short answer to a search query (we already have that) but such a detailed and responsive answer that the links to sites that follow become much less useful and appealing to the user.
The prospect raises a range of questions from the impact on traffic to websites to the intriguing possibility that Google could cause its own digital advertising business to stumble. Whatever the answers to these questions, it seems likely that, just months from now, search could feel very different than it does today.
Based on reporting from Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land.
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