By now you’re probably familiar with AI search like ChatGPT, but Microsoft and Google are also ready to unveil their own AI enhanced search engines.
Google’s is called Bard and the company says it will be ready for public preview soon.
Microsoft calls theirs the “new Bing” and while there’s a waitlist to get in, I’ve had access for about a week now. Here’s what I’ve learned.
First, some background.
Microsoft is one of the big investors behind OpenAI, the company that makes ChatGPT. They got first dibs on their incredible technology that turns everyday searches into something much more.
Microsoft tells me that they’ve built an even more powerful version of ChatGPT into Bing search, and it’s up to date. ChatGPT is only fed data through 2021 since technically it’s a research tool to collect public feedback.
The “new Bing” requires you to download a developer version of Microsoft’s Edge Browser (which is similar to Chrome) and sign into a Microsoft account.
Once you’re in, you can start your searches like you typically would on Bing and get typical link-based results.
Or, you can hit the “chat” tab and turn your search into more of a back-and-forth chat like experience.
You’re chatting with a humanlike bot that has the world’s knowledge behind it.
Answers might take a bit longer to pop up, but they are more fully formed.
Instead of clicking links, you can read paragraphs of synthesized information that is generated on the fly.
It’s quite incredible to see it type out answers as it forms them. Keep in mind, not everything is entirely accurate, but Bing does it’s best to cite where it’s getting all of the information from, with links back to the original source site.
This is one of the biggest shifts in how we search for information. For over a decade now, we type in a search term and hit the first or second result link that pops up. This could be an ad, which pays the search engine for the click, or a website, which makes money by showing you ads on your visit.
Since answers are presented first with these new AI search engines, companies and websites will have to figure out new ways of monetization. This could be one of the reasons why Google hasn’t necessarily been rushing to put out their AI chat search tool. They make the majority of their money off search ads.
Bing can handle all types of requests, with the ability to write songs, compose poems, summarize websites, produce recipes and even write code.
Overall, I’ve found myself using Bing for the AI chat functionality but Google for more standard search results when I just need a link.
Interacting with Bing feels like you are talking to a quasi-human, with each answer punctuated by a question asking if you’d like more information or if you’re happy with the results.
You can also go back and forth to narrow down or change the response. For instance, if Bing writes a personalized happy birthday song for a friend, you can ask it to make it funnier, or darker, or whatever and it will revise its answer.
This is where the AI has gotten in trouble and the source of most of those “Bing is off the rails” headlines.
Apparently, the more back and forth you have with the chatbot, the more it loses its way and acts crazy. For this reason, Microsoft has been constantly tweaking the AI, limiting the number of chat “turns” (back and forth) and the total number of queries a test user can make in a day.
I will say I’ve noticed a definite change in the AI to be a bit less playful in the past week I’ve been using that, and I hope they change it back, at least a bit.
For now, if you try to lead the AI down a road that might cause it to come unhinged, the chatbot will simply refuse to answer and ask you to move on.
It’s an incredible time for the world’s knowledge. While we have enjoyed the convenience of Google Search for many years to help us locate all kinds of information on the web, these new AI chatbots usher in an entirely new way to access the world’s knowledge – and build upon it in new ways.