ChatGPT-fueled battle for search is bigger than Microsoft or Google

ChatGPT-fueled battle for search is bigger than Microsoft or Google

ChatGPT-fueled battle for search is bigger than Microsoft or Google

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Hoover says Andi simply avoids repeating search result text. “He doesn’t make things up like other chatbots,” she says. People can decide for themselves whether it’s true or not. After gathering feedback from its users over the past year, the company’s chatbot will now sometimes admit that it’s not sure of an answer. “He’ll say, ‘I’m not sure, but according to Wikipedia…,’” Hoover said.


Either way, this new era of search is unlikely to abandon link lists altogether. “When I think about search five years from now, we’ll still have the ability to browse results,” Hoover says. “I think it’s an important part of the web.”

But as chatbots become more persuasive, will we be less inclined to check their answers? “What’s remarkable is not that big language patterns generate misinformation, but how well they are able to disable people’s critical reasoning skills,” says Mike Tung, CEO of Diffbot, a company which develops software to extract data from the web.

The Shah of the University of Washington shares this concern. In Microsoft’s demo for Bing Chat, the company hammered home the message that using chatbots for research can save time. But Shah points out that a little-known project Microsoft has been working on for years called Search Coach is designed to teach people to stop and think.

Billed as “a search engine with training wheels”, Search Coach helps people, especially students and teachers, learn how to write effective search queries and identify reliable resources. Instead of buying time, Search Coach encourages people to slow down. “Compare that to ChatGPT,” says Shah.

Companies like Andi, Perplexity, and are happy to admit they’re still figuring out what search might be. The truth is, it can be many things.

“You don’t want to fight convenience, it’s a losing battle in consumer technology,” Socher says. “But there are some pretty fundamental questions about the whole state of the internet at play here.”


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