AI Makeover to Online Search

Category Machine Learning

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Classic search and click is becoming harder to distinguish as AI search engines ChatGPT, Bard or Bing offer direct answers to queries instead of a pageful of links. AI search engines match user preferences, uses Natural Language Processing and will act as helpful "co-pilots", offer personalized search experience, and protect personal data from being harvested and sold for advertising or online tracking. Nevertheless, startups such as Replika, which specializes in bots, are trying to make the transition more bearable.

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Online search, dominated by Google for 25 years, has become as banal as making a phone call, but it could finally be getting a profound reset thanks to artificial intelligence.The classic search and click made ubiquitous by the Google behemoth is getting a major AI makeover as bots ChatGPT, Bard or Bing see hundreds of millions of web surfers seek answers to life's questions in a new way.

"People are realizing how many times they use Google search, not to find a webpage, but to answer a question," said Stefan Sigg, Chief Product Officer at Germany-based Software AG.

AI search engines take into account factors such as user preference when creating the results

Microsoft, long considered big tech's boring uncle, has jumped fearlessly and some say blindly into generative AI search with an update to Bing, the long struggling also-ran to Google.

Bing's bot, which was released worldwide after three months of testing, responds directly to a query instead of throwing out a pageful of links for the search user to wade and click through. With a prompt, Bing will compare two products, brainstorm vacation plans or reassuringly help prepare a job interview, for example.

AI search engines have specialized algorithms to select the best possible results from the query

--- 'Heavy lifting' --- .

"Now, search does the heavy lifting for you," said Cathy Edwards, VP Engineering at Google, during the company's annual I/O developers conference in California. The user no longer has to "sift through the information and then piece things together," she said.

At the conference, matching Bing, Google presented the latest iteration of its web search juggernaut, but instead of the constellation of links that confronts you today, a chatbot offered a few paragraphs to answer what you were looking for.

AI search engines use Natural Language Processing to process more complex queries

Google's AI amped search engine will slowly be released in the United States as a start, the company said.

"What we're trying to do is make it more natural and intuitive, as easy as asking a friend and getting information from someone who's really knowledgeable for any question you have in the world," Elizabeth Reid, Vice President of Search, told AFP.

Beyond search, Google and Microsoft have deployed generative AI tools to other products, from cloud to word processing, presenting bots as helpful "co-pilots," to use the term hammered home by the Windows-maker.

Software AG's ChatGPT, Microsoft's Bard and Google's Bing are popular AI search engines

--- Personal 'genie' --- .

"I think search is going to be fractured into a million pieces, and integrated into all sorts of interfaces, and not just one monolithic centralized place, which is what Google has become," said John Battelle, author and media entrepreneur.

But if every website acts like a faithful friend, it will become ever more difficult to distinguish good information from bad, he warned.

AI search engines are programmed to search relevant search queries without the need for data input

"Would you trust an AI travel agent to give you the right deal? No," Battelle said.

"I want my own 'genie', my 'agent' to negotiate with the website. If it's just me against an AI, I'm gonna lose. I want one on my side." .

Battelle's "genie" would digest a user's information from the smartphone, computer, TV or car to help answer and act for the user in life online.

The bot, powered by personal data, would buy the best vacuum cleaner according to your tastes, habits and current promotions, sparing a long and tedious search. The AI personal assistant would have to come for a fee, ensuring that personal data wasn't harvested and sold to the highest bidder for advertising or online tracking, as it is on social media.

Bing's AI search engine offers direct answers to queries and will perform comparison between two products on its own

Startups such as Replika, which specializes in bots, are trying to bridge the gap between Google search and online services, but there is no "killer product" yet, Battelle said.

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