It’s hard to imagine an internet without Google.
The tech giant has become synonymous with web search and has become a verb. We don’t search. “Google that”.
Google ended year-end 2022 as the world’s most visited website. Estimated share of the search engine market is 92% (Microsoftof Bing is its closest competitor at 3%.
On the surface, you might not like a landscape ripe for change, but you can’t be sure.
release of ChatGPTAI chatbots threatened to overturn the methods last year. People prepare for a job interview, journalists write storiesAnd children do homework.
It has been trained on the vast amount of text on the internet, along with its ability to provide human-like responses to almost any prompt, prompting speculation that it might pose a threat to Google.
Search engines ready to invest heavily in AI
The New York Times reported that Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin are back to help add ChatGPT-like functionality to the search engine they launched 25 years ago.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, reportedly wants to accelerate the company’s plans for conversational AI in its products and services.Seriously, we try it and it really Weird).
With Microsoft investing billions of dollars in ChatGPT creator OpenAI, it’s likely going into products like Office (Clippy and friends, welcome) and Bing.
A potential AI arms race is predicted by former Google advertising czar Sridhar Ramaswamy, who wants to get ahead of this potentially game-changing trend using what he has learned over 15 years at the company.
“We are at an interesting point.” He told Sky News from his home in California. There he co-founded startup search engine Neeva.
“It’s a place where huge language models and AI give us unprecedented capabilities to look at information, look at things, and provide answers in ways that weren’t possible before. This is a really exciting time for search. Several companies in many ways.”
How AI is changing the way we browse the web
You.com, a search engine launched in California in 2021, added a bot called YouChat in December. And Neeva’s new AI.
Launched in the UK in October, Neeva aims to deliver informative and trustworthy search results without being tied down by user data and ads.
AI capabilities are being added for UK users in February. AI searches the web for information, generates a single written answer to a query, and, like YouChat, cites each source to help users find more information.
And it works in real time. That means we stay up to date on current events and reference accordingly for our small pool of over 1 million monthly users.
“This gives search the power to be far more fluid than it has ever been,” says Ramaswarmy, who believes Google should challenge the advertising model he led (which accounts for the majority of revenue).
“The entire search experience is focused on getting people to click on ads,” he says.
“But there’s a bigger reason: More and more people are seeing sites ‘for Google’ that game how to get to the top, because the Internet’s advertising obsession has tuned Google’s algorithms in a way that focuses on engagement.”
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But has everything turned upside down?
Neeva’s commitment to ad-free service comes with a premium of £5.49 per month or £44.99 per year.
Most users are on the free tier, which is limited to 50 searches per month.
Allowing unlimited searches through powerful AI is not a particularly cost-effective business model. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman admitted the compute cost to run ChatGPT was “blinding”.
Dr. Andrew Rogoyski of the People-Centred AI Lab at the University of Surrey says the infrastructure needed to run these services at Google’s scale will be enormous.
“There are ways to streamline conversational AI in ways we can afford,” he told Sky News.
“AI is getting bigger and consuming more energy, and that’s the wrong direction. It’s pushing AI into the hands of large organizations.”
However, there are more fundamental issues to consider for any search engine that wants to leverage AI.
‘Wrong or meaningless’
Like ChatGPT, NeevaAI is a large language model, so it is trained on huge amounts of information.
However, OpenAI acknowledges that answers can be “overly verbose” and “incorrect or nonsensical.”
“It knows neither right nor wrong,” says Ramaswarmy, “it knows no authority from gossip.”
Of course, it’s an entirely different matter if the early ChatGPT made a mistake and a company like Google launches a commercial product with a similar failure. Microsoft found out in 2016 after chatbots were trained to say offensive things..
“Conversational AI is certainly very believable in a short amount of time and will improve over time,” Rogoyski said.
Key Risks of Using AI for Search Engines (According to CHATGPT)
- Bias: AI-powered search engines can perpetuate and even amplify existing biases, especially if the data used to train the model is biased.
- Privacy: AI-powered search engines can collect and store large amounts of personal data that can be used for targeted advertising or other purposes.
- Censorship: AI-powered search engines can be used to censor or suppress certain types of information.
- Misinformation: AI-powered search engines can return misinformation or fake news, especially when AI models are trained from untrustworthy sources.
- Unemployment: AI-powered search engines can lead to job losses for certain types of jobs, such as librarians or research assistants.
- Security: AI-powered search engines may be vulnerable to hacking or other types of cyberattacks that can compromise user data or interfere with search results.
- Dependence: People can become too dependent on AI-powered search engines, which can lead to lack of critical thinking and research skills.
- Monopolies: AI-powered search engines can create powerful monopolies that can lead to competition and lack of innovation.
Are we really ready for change?
Seeing the potential for change on the Internet and seeing through it are two entirely different things.
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Ramaswarmy acknowledges that triggering Internet “mass migration” is difficult, but sees ChatGPT’s breakthrough as proof that “platform shifting” is possible.
“Think of how we’ve gone from Microsoft, Nokia, and Blackberry to disappearing from the mobile world, leaving Google and Apple to be the dominant players,” he says.
“Looks like this is one of the showdown moments.”