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8 Feb 2023

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Microsoft-backed ChatBPT and Google Bard Are Search Engines

ChatGPT and Bard are search engines, not writers. Sure, they can crank out copy, at high speed with perfect grammar and no spelling errors. By naming its new service Bard, Google is (unwittingly or not) now verging on answering the old question of how many chimpanzees would it take for how long to recreate the entire works of Shakespeare?

But the use of these new generative AI environments will skew towards search very quickly. The writing output from them may serve as a basis for an article or paper's outline, and some college students may try to pass off a generative AI piece as an original essay.

But professional writers will have already noticed ChatGPT's invariable approach to writing:

* A general, affirmative opening statement consistent use of the word “significant” to give the impression it understands the question and has a thoughtful answer to it

* A numbered list of two-word examples of whatever is being discussed

* A pained approach to avoiding colorful adjectives that might hint at an opinion, often preceded by a clear statement that says it has no opinions about anything

* A final paragraph that starts with “In conclusion,”

Mistakes Are Funny Now, But...
ChatGPT also makes riotous mistakes when it has somehow gotten incorrect information into its store of knowledge. A question about the history of US political systems, for example, said that Hubert Humphrey rather than Richard Nixon won the 1968 Presidential election, even as it also correctly pointed out that 1968 was a turning point with many Southern states voting Republican for the first time since the Civil War.

It doubled down on a related question about the years after the Civil War, when it incorrectly stated that the years 1865 to 1929 were dominated by Democrats in the White House, rather than correctly stating it was Republicans.

Twitter is full of other comical examples of people tripping ChatGPT up with questions in their fields of interest.

ChatGPT Integrates with Bing
Microsoft has already grasped ChatGPT's potential use in search, announcing almost immediately after Google's Bard announcement that ChatGPT will be part of Microsoft Bing search from here on out. Bing can certainly use a boost, holding less than 10% market share of all searches worldwide compared to Google at more than 80%.

A Microsoft blogpost written by Yusuf Mehdi, a company VP and CMO, states that half of all searches “go unanswered. That’s because people are using search to do things it wasn’t originally designed to do. It’s great for finding a website, but for more complex questions or tasks too often it falls short.”

Providing credible, long answers to complex question thus becomes these Ais' quests. A Bloomberg piece on this topic says doing this “is likely to create a trust problem. People have been placing their faith in search engines (for decades).” If ChatGPT or Bard or any other generative AI platform to emerge gets things simply wrong, this faith would disappear quickly.

Looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer of fiery competition between the Redmond Giant and the Googleples. Hey ChatGPT, what are the top ten hottest summers on record in the world, anyway? How many of them are related to global warming? What measures can individuals take to cool things down a little?

Chart of Search Market Share from Statista

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