At an unexpected event this week, Microsoft unveiled upgraded versions of its Bing search engine and Edge web browser, both infused with upgraded AI from OpenAI’s ChatGPT text generator, a technology the company has invested a lot in recently. It’s the biggest shot Microsoft has taken at Google over AI search who, just yesterday, introduced its own text generation model Bard.
One of the primary ways you’ll notice ChatGPT’s AI in Bing is in common search results, where traditional results will be on the left while AI results will appear on the right. Demos of the feature in action showed AI-generated summaries of queries that pulled information directly from the web. That’s the biggest difference between Microsoft’s version of ChatGPT AI and the standard GPT 3.5 model – it’s continuously updated, so you’ll have relevant information. The new model is what Microsoft calls the “Prometheus Model.”
Of course, you’ll be able to generate text in Bing like you can in ChatGPT, thanks to updates in Edge. The browser can generate starters for things like blog posts and essays, and it can help summarize complex topics for consuming on your own.
Bing also wants to be more of an assistant than ever. Microsoft demoed how you could ask it to cook up a five-day itinerary for a trip to Mexico, to which it replied with travel plans and links to relevant information. This is a very Google-esque feature to have, which further signals Microsoft’s push to go toe-to-toe with the search giant once and for all.
If that’s not enough evidence, how about a statement from Microsoft’s CEO admitting they need to move fast? “It’s a new day in search,” Satya Nadella said to reporters. “The race starts today, and we’re going to move and move fast.”
This is the most serious Microsoft has been about competing with Google on search, at least in my 7+ years of reporting. And who could blame them; when Open AI’s ChatGPT took off like it did, it put Google on notice, flagging a “code red” within the company to roll something out before it was too late. (I’m guessing this is why the best name they could come up with for their AI text generator is “Bard.”)
Google won’t launch Bard for a little while, but Microsoft wants to ensure it releases its version a lot quicker. It’s already available to the public in a limited desktop environment, which only lets you ask certain questions and get pre-generated responses. You can join a waitlist on the page and be notified when the full version is available, but it’s clear Microsoft wants to begin priming the general public for what’s to come.
Of course, Microsoft will be playing the long game with these AI-infused versions of Bing and Edge. The company says each response might not be as accurate or inclusive as it could be, so it’s asking the public to submit feedback regularly whenever the features are used. It didn’t take long for AI assistants like this to screw up, as ChatGPT has faced numerous issues with misinformation and offensive language. Google is also aware of these problems and has said it’ll work on Bard over time to get rid of any junk.
The AI search wars have begun, and Microsoft is making a serious play to stay afloat. Will they be successful? Only time will tell.
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