The battle to impose its own artificial intelligence model has begun among the giants of Internet search, between Microsoft, which is betting on the ChatGPT program, Google, which has just launched Bard, and the Chinese search engine Baidu, which is announcing its own chatbot service.
Artificial intelligence applied to search in the endless universe of the Internet could revolutionize the network, and the world of work.
The goal is to pose a question to the search engine and get an answer using natural language, not an exhaustive list of documents.
– Billions of dollars of investment
The AI can also propose mapping, a job meeting, topic-related contacts, or an image analysis.
In November, the Californian start-up OpenAI, with the help of Microsoft, launched its conversational robot ChatGPT, capable of answering any question with more or less precision. It is a free service for the moment, and the success has been phenomenal: 100 million users in two months.
At the end of January, Microsoft announced that it is ready to invest “billions of dollars” in OpenAI. According to the US press, the group has already invested $3 billion and has plans to inject a further $10 billion.
The practical consequences are already appearing: Microsoft launched this Monday a more expensive version of its communication software Teams, equipped with ChatGPT functionalities, for example to generate meeting summaries.
And the multinational brand assured two weeks ago that it plans to “add a touch” of ChatGPT to all its other products, including its search engine Bing, which for the moment fails to compete with Google.
In a little less than a month, Google has already announced its replica.
Its Bard project “seeks to combine the breadth of global knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our great language models,” company CEO Sundar Pichai explained Monday.
“It draws on information from across the Web to deliver fresh, high-quality answers,” he added.
Google controls about 90% of Internet search, which means a huge amount of advertising revenue.
And now it’s Baidu’s turn.
Several Chinese firms have begun developing rival apps, but Baidu is the biggest to enter the fray to recreate the success of ChatGPT, although the firm did not announce a launch date for the service, which will be called “Ernie Bot.”
A Baidu spokesman told AFP that internal “testing could be completed in March, before the chatbot is available to the public.”
– Misrepresentations or control –
“A search engine integrating AI will give a structured answer to a question,” Thierry Poibeau, director of research at the CNRS, tells AFP.
“With the risk that the internet user will consider himself satisfied, despite possible misrepresentations or control of the single answer,” warns Claude de Loupy, head of Syllabs, a French company specializing in automatic text generation.
Some initial projects have suffered setbacks. This is the case with Meta (Facebook). Just before the appearance of ChatGPT, on November 15, the group announced Galactica, a language model that summarizes scientific articles, and even helps to write them.
But Galactica also generated absurd, or racist, responses. Meta had to withdraw that beta model three days after releasing it.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.