Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said artificial intelligence (AI) will replace search engines such as Google in two years.
“My prediction is that AI (not necessarily ChatGPT) will replace search, maybe within the next two years (current AI not yet good enough),” Buchheit tweeted on Feb. 1.
Google facing ‘total disruption’
The software engineer said this as a form of clarification on an earlier statement he made regarding ChatGPT, the widely popular OpenAI bot. He believes that his comments were taken out of context and “sensationalized” by the media.
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However, the argument remains fundamentally the same in that Paul Buchheit’s prediction will still impact his former employer. Google is already reacting to the threat with plans to release 20 new AI related products to improve search this year, according to reports.
In his original comments from early December, Buchheit stated: “Google may be only a year or two away from total disruption. AI will eliminate the search engine result page, which is where they make most of their money,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Even if they catch up on AI, they can’t fully deploy it without destroying the most valuable part of their business.”
Google may be only a year or two away from total disruption. AI will eliminate the Search Engine Result Page, which is where they make most of their money.
Even if they catch up on AI, they can't fully deploy it without destroying the most valuable part of their business! https://t.co/jtq25LXdkj
— Paul Buchheit (@paultoo) December 1, 2022
Google gets much of its revenue from search through online advertisements. The tech giant, which dominates the search business, charges advertisers a fee for ad placements that sit next to the search results. This improves the chances of ads being seen by consumers.
In 2021, Google reported revenues rose 41% to $258 billion from a year ago, its biggest to date. Ads made up 81% of total revenues that year. However, Google is grappling with a slowdown in online ad spending amid mounting antitrust lawsuits.
According to market research firm Insider Intelligence, the company’s share of total online advertising income in the U.S. fell from 37% in 2016 to 29% in 2022. Alphabet-owned Google controls up to 90% of the search business’ total market share.
Killing Web search ChatGPT way
Culture is now a sanctuary in this posthuman future. But the upcoming dominance of AI in search has even the most cultured corporate organizations in panic, and none more so than Google. OpenAI’s buzzy chatbot ChatGPT has been all the rage since its launch in November.
It can write complex essays, poetry, code and even pass MBA exams at the Wharton School of Business. OpenAI has also received a reported $10 billion cash boost from Microsoft, which is looking to add the chatbot’s abilities into its own search engine.
ChatGPT is shaking things up. It has spawned an AI arms race of sorts in Sillicon Valley. As Paul Buchheit said, tech like AI can remove the need for search engine result pages. He elaborates on how search businesses like Google could become useless, in exactly the same way that the company “killed” pre-internet business The Yellow Pages.
“The way I imagine this happening is that the URL/Search bar of the browser gets replaced with AI that autocompletes my thought/question as I type it while also providing the best answer (which may be a link to a website or product),” he explained.
“The old search engine backend will be used by the AI to gather relevant information and links, which will then be summarized for the user. It’s like asking a professional human researcher to do the work, except the AI will instantly do what would take many minutes for a human.”
One thing that few people remember is the pre-Internet business that Google killed: The Yellow Pages!
The Yellow Pages used to be a great business, but then Google got so good that everyone stopped using the yellow pages.
AI will do the same thing to web search
— Paul Buchheit (@paultoo) December 1, 2022
Google joins AI race
The new artificial intelligence technology has been a wake up call for Google. CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly declared a “code red”, steamrolling over the company’s existing plans to kickstart AI development, The New York Times reports.
Google is now targeting to release around 20 new products and “demonstrate a version of its search engine with chatbot features this year,” it said, quoting sources with knowledge of the plans.
One of these projects is “Apprentice Bard,” as per a CNBC report. Apprentice Bard is a chatbot that is able to provide responses to questions asked using natural language. It uses Google’s conversation technology called Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA). The model is similar to the GPT language model utilized by ChatGPT .