Bing and ChatGPT may be the future of search, even if Google doesn’t believe it
Welcome to the AI wars. Not the kind we imagine Skynet launching a sudden missile attack on its manufacturers, but the kind where companies are all vying to be your primary source of AI connections. Put this powerful technology at your fingertips. Somewhat unexpectedly, the tip of the spear is Microsoft and Bing.
Here’s the crazy thing, though. Having seen and tried Microsoft’s new Bing search engine and its powerful chatbot, which Microsoft unveiled Tuesday at an event in Redmond, Wash., I think Microsoft may have just won the key The first skirmish in the battle for technological dominance. This could be Bing’s moment. And by “moment” I mean when you finally start to realize or care that Microsoft has had its own search engine for over a decade.
You might want to start using Bing. At least when you had access to the first iteration of Bing and its new chatbot, which I was lucky to have access to now.
New look, new AI features
I know that Microsoft announced a new Chatbot-enhanced search engine just 24 hours after Google unveiled its ChatGPT competitor, Bard, and plans to reinvent its own more popular search engine. But that’s the difference.google’s bard is coming soon. The new Bing is here now and it works just like you want it to and expect the “Ask me anything” search engine to work.
In some ways, the new Bing looks a lot like the old Bing, but it’s not. The desktop version is available now, with a mobile version to follow, and it neither hides nor forces you into AI chat.
Obviously, the interface looks different. There’s a new “Chat” option in the menu, and you can even swipe between the main search screen and a screen entirely dedicated to chatbots. Back on the search screen, the query box is much larger and can hold up to 1,000 characters, which can answer almost any natural language question you can ask.
You can — I do — type pretty much anything you want in that space. Microsoft says most people type an average of 2.4 words into the search box, but that’s operating within the parameters and scope of a typical search engine. To be clear, Microsoft isn’t reinventing the wheel here. Most people already type lengthy queries into Google Search and get decent keyword-based results. However, the new Bing takes this idea a step further.
As we type in all kinds of queries, including vanity searches for moi and longer queries like asking whether to bake blueberry muffins for people with gluten and milk allergies, Bing is collecting standard fare like Wikipedia about me Results and info on various muffin recipes from the Gourmet website. If you were only looking at the center of the screen, you might think nothing has changed, but slowly filling up on the right is a new box filled with more conversation results from the Bing chatbot.
The result is like its cousin ChatGPT, but not either. Microsoft essentially took OpenAI’s work on ChatGPT and iterated on it with OpenAI’s help, putting the power of Azure cloud services behind it and combining it with Bing’s knowledge graph to create what it calls The Prometheus model.
go deeper and further
In each case, the chat results expand the results in more detail, and because it’s conversational, the first result may just be the start of a longer conversation. In my vanity search, we got details about my career and then asked the chatbot if I had won any awards. It found the ones I did and the ones I got runner-up on (this is for reminder, new Bing).
At the bottom of the results in the chat box on the right is a “Let’s Chat” button that allows you to deepen your query with additional questions.
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For my baking woes, I read more about how to find ingredients that won’t bother my allergic friends. Some (but not all) of these results are notable in that, unlike ChatGPT, every reference is cited in place. I just hover over a page to view the source or click to visit the original page.
In the chat screen, each result returns additional guiding questions to continue your search. When I started searching about exercising my quads without hurting my back (I lied and told Bing I hurt it last summer), Bing replied I’m sorry I hurt my back , and added “I hope you’re feeling better now. 😊 If you have back pain, it can be challenging to work out your quads or quadriceps, but there are some exercises that can help you without hurting your back …” and then suggested a long list of widely cited exercise options. The list is extensive, with many citations.
It’s still early
We’ve seen some results that don’t include a reference, though, as a colleague did on workout options, and the link was free despite recommending a few different workout options. The problem here is that the chatbot doesn’t even take into account the possibility that the searcher can’t handle this type of activity.
It’s early days for the new Bing, though, and the whole point of AI is that they can learn (or can be trained), and get better and better. What’s more, the system does have a feedback mechanism so you can point out inaccurate responses. You can do this by choosing to dislike, but you can get more granular feedback by adding some details and screenshots in the feedback window. I’d love to see the ability to select the exact offending text, right click, and choose “This is inaccurate”. Maybe in a future version.
Even so, the beauty of what Microsoft is building here is the first fully integrated search AI. Not only is it elegant and functional (in the Microsoft Edge integration, you can ask Bing Chat to summarize a page for you), but, as is often the case with the best new AI tools, it’s also fun.
It’s also doing what we’ve probably always wanted search to do, directing us to the best results. Google arguably has the most powerful and comprehensive knowledge graph, but an initial search won’t necessarily bring back the results you want. So you search again. It’s a series of stops and starts until you get the best results. With the addition of Bing Chat, search becomes a funnel where additional context and questions narrow the focus until you get the best results.
Abuse is certainly an issue, but as Microsoft builds on the already strong foundations of its oft-ignored search engine – Chat inherits Bing’s flair and ability to reduce bad, stale, false and harmful information.
I’m sure it won’t be foolproof because there are very few AIs. Still, ChatGPT is making waves not just because it is powerful and easy to use, but because it is largely free of the bias and misjudgment that plagued many chatbots of the past.
In other words, Microsoft combined a seasoned search engine with arguably best-in-class consumer AI, improved on both, and built something entirely new that anyone can use without any training. .
They’ve done it before Google.