Google’s Sundar Pichai says chat AI is coming to search…at some point

Google’s Sundar Pichai says chat AI is coming to search…at some point

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Conversational artificial intelligence is coming to the world’s largest search engine, according to the Google LLC boss, but when that happens, he’s not prepared to say.

In an interview that was published by the Wall Street Journal today, Pichai allayed fears that large language model AI – known as LLMs – such as the very popular ChatGPT, will put much of a dent in Google’s profits. It’s well-known that a good chunk of the company’s revenue comes from its search engine. Pichai said while Google search is currently without such a feature, it’s coming.

“Will people be able to ask questions to Google and engage with LLMs in the context of search?” he said in the interview. “Absolutely.” Still, in some respects, Google has been left behind after Microsoft Corp. decided to invest billions of dollars in Open AI LLC – the creator of ChatGPT.

In February, Microsoft unveiled its new Bing search engine integrated with ChatGPT and then later updated Windows 11 with the feature. Millions of people got on board, and suddenly Bing, always the outsider search engine, was the talk of the town. Things got off to a rocky start, with the AI seeming to crack up under pressure and giving some wild answers to questions, but soon Microsoft reined the chatbot in.

The crazy answers only served as a marketing tool for Microsoft, given the AI sounded so human – albeit a human having a nervous breakdown. Still, Microsoft later said it’s been “an amazing 30 days,” calling the 100 million daily active users of Bing “notable.” The company added that Bing had experienced “45 million total chats” since it began its preview. Google still by far has the largest market share in the search engine business, but Bing certainly looks set to upset the numbers.

Google seems to be taking its sweet time, and perhaps with all the faults and concerns surrounding generative technology, the company is being sensible. Just this week, Open AI has come under the spotlight in regard to the fact it often sounds very authoritative but gives wayward replies to questions. There’s a concern that this technology may have been rushed in terms of how fast it’s been pushed out to regular internet users. The genie is out of the bottle, but the genie isn’t half as smart as we first thought he was.

Last week, Google said it had updated its own Bard chatbot’s capabilities, employing technology from an advanced language model. Pichai said it will “bring more capabilities; be it in reasoning, coding, it can answer maths questions better.” He told The Journal that his company will keep on improving Bard but offered no timeframe as to when it will be released into the wild.

Photo: Kai Wenzel/Unsplash

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