Microsoft is planning to launch a new version of its search engine Bing that will integrate ChatGPT to improve answers to search queries and provide a better all round service.
According to multiple sources the new flavor of Bing should launch in March as Microsoft seeks to close the gap with Google.
Closing down the gap
Google has been the dominant search engine of the past 20 years. With a market share of around 84% to Bing’s 8.9% the two competitors aren’t currently in the same ballpark.
Now Microsoft may just have an ace in the hole thanks to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. It’s an ace that didn’t come cheaply. In 2019, Microsoft announced a partnership with OpenAI, committing to invest $1 billion in the project.
The fruits of that investment are now coming to bear and that billion seems wisely spent. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the company is now considering a public share offering that will value the startup at a whopping $29 billion. Thrive Capital and Founders Fund are said to be among the interested parties, with a potential $300 million already on the table. Not bad for a company that has yet to generate any revenues.
ChatGPT swiftly became an internet sensation after its launch in December, proving itself adept at multiple tasks including generating code, creating health plans, writing poetry and even working as a personal assistant.
Now Microsoft is examining how it can integrate the artificial intelligence into its search engine. One option the company could explore is the model adopted by You.com, which has already integrated traditional search and chatbot functions. At You.com once a traditional search is complete, an additional button press then provides an AI response.
Some outlets have also suggested that Microsoft could leverage ChatGPT to rival Google’s Knowledge Graph, the knowledge base that Google uses to provide instant answers to certain questions. While ChatGPT could undoubtedly be used in this manner, it would also mark a failure to fully realize the full potential of the technology.
Mistakes can be costly
One particular challenge facing Microsoft is the unreliability of some of ChatGPT’s answers. The bot has proven itself equally adept at providing made up answers as truthful ones.
As OpenAI CEO Sam Altman himself admits “ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness. It’s a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now.”
It’s not an issue that is specific to ChatGPT. The same sentiments are shared by You.com CEO Richard Socher, “While youChat will be more often up-to-date and truthful than other large language models, it still makes mistakes.”
Large language models remain a long way from perfect and that is something Microsoft will be all too aware of. If mistakes in information are seen to come directly from Microsoft as a source rather than from third party websites, then it may not be long before someone calls the litgators.
Indeed, Google has cited “reputational risk” for failing to integrate Chatbot technology into its own search engine. Google cited well known issues with bias and accuracy as reasons for its cautious approach.
DALL-E already at Bing.com
While the integration of ChatGPT still remains some way off, the company has already added the AI-generative art app DALL-E.
That can be found by clicking “images” on the main screen and clicking on “image creator” on the right-hand side of the screen.