AI chatbot vs search engines | The Financial Express

AI chatbot vs search engines

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, is a viral sensation that has created enough ripples in the search engine landscape. It

tech sector, tech industry
ChatGPT has been created by OpenAI, a not-for-profit AI research laboratory.

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, is a viral sensation that has created enough ripples in the search engine landscape. It is not a search engine but an AI assistant trained to answer users’ questions and provide information. Yet, it has been able to rev up the industry and stirred debates, such as if it will make search engines, especially Google, obsolete, or if AI integrated into search engines is the future.

A sophisticated chatbot

Many websites have a chatbot option, using which users can get their queries answered. ChatGPT is similar and more, as it provides much more nuanced, personalised, and in-depth answers to questions as varied as ‘How do I make an HTTP request in Javascript?’ and ‘Write a haiku on Indian monsoons’. Using it, you will feel as if you are actually communicating with another human.

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For that, it has been trained with an enormous amount of data, billions of words. “I don’t have the ability to browse the internet or access new information, so I can only provide information based on what I have been trained on,” it answers when asked if the chatbot can browse the internet.

A Microsoft add-on?

At a recent event in Mumbai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asked the chatbot to rank Mumbai’s street food. Vada Pav topped the list. According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft Corp is gearing up to add the chatbot to its Bing search engine. Notably, Bing is a much smaller search engine compared to Alphabet’s Google.

Businessman on blurred background using digital chatbot robot application 3D rendering

ChatGPT has been created by OpenAI, a not-for-profit AI research laboratory. It comes under OpenAI LP, a for-profit organisation, founded in 2015 by Elon Musk, and CEO Sam Altman, among others. Microsoft has invested $1 billion in OpenAI.

A threat to Google?

An advantage of the AI chatbot over Google is that it provides personalised answers instead of a million links, leaving it to the person to figure out. Also, the conversational feature keeps things interesting.

And it seems, the search engine giant is also sensing some amount of threat.

According to media reports, Google employees had, last month, asked CEO Sundar Pichai and AI research head Jeff Dean about the chatbot’s threat on Google. Declaring the situation a “code red” threat, the company’s top management has mobilised researchers to respond to ChatGPT, as per a New York Times report. Notably, Google is working on a similar technology, called LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications system).

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Yes, ChatGPT seems to be a useful and convenient technology. But, it is still too soon to assume that it can take on Google. For one, it has been criticised in the past for incorrect answers. Although Google can be wrong too, it still provides you links, hence providing a way to verify. Updating ChatGPT and other such AI chatbots’ knowledge base can be another challenge.

But most important is the business model. While Google has made a business out of advertising, OpenAI is still figuring out its course. “We will have to monetize it somehow at some point; the compute costs are eye-watering,” tweeted OpenAI CEO Altman when asked if the chatbot will remain free forever. When asked by Elon Musk, “What’s the average cost per chat?”, he replied, “average is probably single-digits cents per chat; trying to figure out more precisely and also how we can optimize it”.

The business model adopted will also determine to some extent how big a threat it will be to Google.

Also, the integration with Microsoft’s Bing will put an end to any commentary on it disrupting the search engine landscape. Rather, it will pave the way to a new trend where AI will play a greater role in search engines, examples of which are already being seen. is a search engine launched last year.

Last month, it launched a ChatGPT-like chatbot called YouChat.

Similar to OpenAI’s tools, YouChat provides personalised answers to a wide range of questions. Here’s a Haiku it came up with on Indian monsoons:

Fresh monsoon rain falls

Life blooms with its

cool embrace

Blessing all in its path’

Although it is still soon, this development seems to have a long-lasting impact on the search engine landscape.

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First published on: 15-01-2023 at 01:10 IST