The new search engines integrated with artificial intelligence technology can now respond directly to users’ questions, providing an adequate summary of the available information, followed by suggested links and ideas for speaking directly with the chatbot.
Internet search engines controlled by “Google” have become a tool that everyone uses on a daily basis, and they have not witnessed any significant changes since their launch 25 years ago, but the boom in generative artificial intelligence may change them radically.
The development in this field is so rapid that traditional keyword searches and the lists of links they refer to seem archaic compared to the conversations that millions of people have with AI interfaces such as ChatGPT (Open EA) and Cool. (“Google”).
“People are starting to realize how much they use Google, not to search for websites, but to answer questions,” says Stefan Sieg, product manager at Software AG.
Microsoft has launched this path by integrating the chatbot (on the “ChatGPT” model) with its search engine, “Bing”.
And the “Bing” engine, in its new version, which was made available to the general public as of last week after a three-month trial period, can respond directly to users’ questions, providing an adequate summary of the available information, followed by suggested links and ideas for chatting directly with the chatbot.
This bot can draw up comparison tables between two products, suggest an outline of activities, draft a calendar or help prepare for a job interview, for example.
A robot that talks like a masked human
Google Vice President of Engineering Kathy Edwards said Wednesday that users no longer need to put keywords during searches, as the search engine will “do most of the work on your behalf.” And Edwards introduced the new form of the central platform via the Internet, similar to that of its competitor Microsoft, as the answers provided by the automated system are based on a few written clips, with the possibility of determining the results more accurately with additional questions.
This version of Google’s search engine, powered by generative artificial intelligence, will be gradually made available to users in the United States at first.
“We’re trying to make the process more natural, so it’s as easy as asking a friend who has experience in all areas,” Google Vice President in charge of search engine Elizabeth Reed told AFP.
The two tech giants have started adding generative AI tools in their various services, from cloud computing to desktop tools, to make these chatbots the “navigators” of car races, as Microsoft puts it.
“Search will be fragmented into a million pieces and integrated into many interfaces far from being confined to this single central site that Google has become,” explains writer John Patel, an entrepreneur in the field of media.
But as each website and application interacts with users and consumers through a chatbot with the ability to speak like a professional and persuasive human being, it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and bad results.
“Would you trust an online travel agency customer to give you the best option? No,” says John Patel. He adds, “From here, there is a need for me to find my personal assistant, to negotiate with the services. If the confrontation is between me and artificial intelligence exclusively, I will come out as a loser.”
Replica, Anima and other services already offer AI-based “companion” systems, in the form of chatbots that act as virtual friends. But John Patel dreams of having a “genius,” gathering information everywhere — on his smartphone, computer, TV, and car — to answer his questions and carry out the tasks he needs to do.
One such task is, for example, buying the best vacuum cleaner based on personal taste, consumer habits and current promotions, after a short conversation, rather than a long and arduous search online.
Such language models, trained on personal data, will necessarily work to ensure the confidentiality of this information that is currently being used to target Internet users with advertisements.
And Jim Lesinski, professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, says Google is not going away anytime soon. “Four years ago, with the arrival of voice assistants, Google, Alexa (from Amazon), and Siri (from Apple), we thought people would only talk to machines,” he recalls.
However, the advent of generative AI may prompt a reconsideration of the economic model of the Internet, as it can allow users to find the product they want “without having to click on an ad”, according to Jim Lesinski. But he expresses confidence that the companies involved will find solutions.
In the new model Google introduced Wednesday, the Internet is still there, either at the top of the results or at the bottom, depending on the question asked.
“We can’t predict the future, but I think advertising will continue to play a vital role,” says Elizabeth Reed.