You’re likely to find a lot of links when you search the internet for something you are looking for. Even though there have been some improvements, such as Google’s “people also asked” box that attempts to answer queries related to search queries, the user experience has remained the same over the years.
Google and Microsoft have developed new artificial intelligence that will fundamentally alter how we search the internet for information. This is no small deal.
Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, laid out the company’s plans to use its new AI tech (such as its Language Model For Dialogue Applications or LaMDA) to Google Search. Satya Nadella , Microsoft’s CEO, unveiled its new AI-boosted Bing search engine. It is powered by OpenAI’s AI Chatbot and its GPT 3.5 technology.
Google and Bing now offer conversational solutions to complex questions. Although the links lists will be available, they could soon become redundant. Google’s and Microsoft’s new search engines are designed to help users find the most relevant information when searching the internet. Users can ask natural questions using their own words, rather than guessing which keyword combination is most effective. They also have the option to request answers in a more digestible format.
Pichai’s Monday blog post included an example of a search query that asked “Is it easier to learn piano or guitar and how much practice do they each require?”Courtesy Google
This is not the type of question that we are used to asking search engines, and it’s not the kind of answer we’re used getting.
Michael Wooldridge (director of foundation AI research at the Alan Turing Institute), said, “it’s going to feel more like asking a personal assistant for something.” He said that the new search engines should “understand the nuances of your question and the context in which it is being asked.”
Benedikt Schonhense (head of data science at Springbok AI) said searching would be far more intuitive and more like a conversation.
In media interviews Tuesday, Nadella stated that the AI-powered overhaul to web search was “a new paradigm”. He said, “A new race is beginning with a completely different platform technology.” Google has wanted to prove that it is and not falling behind since OpenAI, a Microsoft-backed company, launched the chatbot ChatGPT in November.
However, there are some limitations and legitimate concerns about this brave new world that is conversational search. Search AIs are able to draw answers from the internet. However, the information available on the web may not always be accurate. ChatGPT’s example shows that a search AI may confidently present an incorrect, ill-informed answer to sensitive questions. There is a danger that search, which is the foundation of human interaction with the internet, will become a hub for AI-generated misinformation.
Abhishek Gupta (the founder and principal researcher of the Montreal AI Ethics Institute) states that a change in search methods could lead to a “discontinuity” in search results for people who are used browsing the internet and making their own decisions. Instead, people will be “told”, he stated, what the “right answer” is. This is based on the expectation that the AI interface is providing a “well-thought-out and crafted answer” to the query.
Gupta stated that “the issues of problematic information — misinformation and disinformation — will become more prevalent.” To combat this, users will need to be more knowledgeable about media and digital literacy.