Artificial Intelligence

Google takes aim at Microsoft’s AI lead with search engine update

11th May 2023
Kristian McCann

Google has announced it is rolling AI onto its search engine. This follows a race from tech companies to increasingly incorporate AI into their systems, with Microsoft adding GPT-4 into its Bing search engine in early 2023.

The ‘Search Generative Experience’ will use the same generative AI technology like OpenAI’s ChatGPT to craft responses to open-ended queries, however due to it currently being in an "experimental" phase it will only be available to a limited number of users in the US via a waitlist.

"We are reimagining all of our core products, including search," said Alphabet, Google's parent company, boss Sundar Pichai.

The tech titan made the announcement yesterday along with a host of others at its annual developer conference, where company heads touted their broader move into AI across its product offerings, a new, foldable google phone and even its collaboration with Apple to implement “unknown tracker alerts" on AirTags following concerns from campaigners.

Google also announced it will be removing the waitlist for "Bard", its competitor to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, will roll it out in English in 180+ countries, be multimodal, and will include the capability to include images in prompts. This ‘relaunching’ of Bard comes after its initial February debut to show off its credentials saw the system answer questions incorrectly; the incident saw $100 billion wiped off Alphabet's share value.

The world’s largest search engine has thus been under increasing pressure to get this one right, seeing as ChatGPT’s explosion onto the scene has some believing its ability to grab relevant information by even sparse prompts make it the future of search engines.

This pressure may be compounded by the resignation of Dr Geoffrey Hinton, known as the AI godfather, from his role at Google. Hinton warned in his leaving remarks that this race to create products based on generative AI could create a real danger.

Since ChatGPT’s dawn, a number of leading tech companies have averted their attention to development of their AI divisions. The famously Metaverse focused Meta in March said their "single largest investment is advancing AI and building it into every one of our products."; McDonald’s are implementing it into its customer ordering processes; news media outlets like the now defunct Buzzfeed was using it to write content, and although ChatGPT is banned in China, a Chinese tech giant Baidu has developed its own domestic generative AI bot.

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