Can AI make Microsoft’s search engine a real competitor to Google? Google unveils search capabilities based on AI enablement and can AI have more ethics than we do?
Welcome to Hashtag Trending – today’s top tech news stories for Thursday, February 9, 2023.
I’m your host, Jim Love.
Can AI bring some real competition to the search business?
Google, has for years dominated search. As of December 2022, Google held 84 per cent and Microsoft, with it’s Bing search engine was the second biggest, some might say the only competitor, but with only a miniscule 9 per cent of the search market.
Today, as Microsoft announced plans to revamp its search engine to include the popular ChatGPT AI, Bing is emerging as a viable competitor to threaten Google’s search engine dominance.
When you are the big kid on the block, it’s fair to see others nibbling away at your market share. Neeva, the new search engine from former Google executive Sridhar Ramaswamy recently came to market with an ad free alternative. But in our interview with Neeva on Hashtag Trending’s weekend edition, Ramaswamy acknowledged that Neeva wasn’t trying to dominate search, but to take a relatively small niche market, at least initially.
But Microsoft’s recent fusion of Bing and OpenAI creates a product that threatens Google’s dominance in the search domain.
Microsoft’s plan is to offer their AI engine as part of Bing’s search capability. It claims that about 50 percent of almost 10 billion search queries go unanswered today, or at least without very good answers,” according to Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi in an interview with Axios today.
Microsoft is betting big that they can address that missing 50 per cent, investing US$10 billion using AI tools to improve standard Bing results. Additionally, the Edge browser will offer new AI-powered features including summaries of web pages and new tools to employ those results, including a writing assistant.
Mehdi told Axios that this shift to AI enabled search is profound and can disrupt the market. For anyone who has experimented with ChatGPT you will see that while classic search might generate a list of links to hundreds or even tens of thousands of articles, AI delivers a concise summary that answers natural language questions with seemingly intelligent answers.
“We can afford to be more innovative and disruptive on experience,” Mehdi said.
Microsoft is already reaping the benefits of this shake-up. According to an article in Tech Crunch, the Bing app saw a 10 times increase in downloads after the announcement. In fact, users who want to try out the new AI features must join a waitlist of millions of users.
With Google, for instance, paying Apple billions of dollars per year to be the default search engine in Safari, a large number of users moving to the Edge browser with Bing as the search engine is a real threat to Google’s dominance in this area.
Google’s claim to accuracy of their AI has an embarrassing set back
Microsoft has acknowledged that despite safeguards, its AI may still produce factually inaccurate information, known as a hallucination, but hopes that users’ feedback will gradually improve the technology.
One of Google’s key competitive differentiators, and its reason to be late to market is it’s cautious approach it claims produces an AI that is more accurate that Microsoft’s ChatGPT.
So it was a huge blow when Google’s Bard AI gave an inaccurate answer in a recent demonstration. In answer to the question “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my 9-year old about? Bard confidently answered that James Webb was used to photograph the very first pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system (an exoplanet). The first pictures of exoplanets were, in fact, taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004, according to NASA.
Google was forced to issue an acknowledgement of the error.
Source: IT World Canada
Either playing catchup or an amazing coincidence, Google just announced new AI enabled search capabilities to Google Lens and Maps.
Multisearch, which allows users to search using both text and images at the same time, and is powered by A.I. technology called Multitask Unified Model or MUM, which understands information across text, photos and videos and draws insights and connections between topics, concepts and ideas is a technology that Google originally launched last April, but this week announced the integration of MUM within its Google Lens visual search features to allow users to add text to a visual search query.
Using MUM a user can pull up, for example, a photo of a shirt they liked in Google Search. The can then ask Lens where they can find the same pattern on a different apparel or in a different color. This combination of words and images help Google to process and understand search queries that it couldn’t have previously handled.
Multisearch was made available last October in the U.S. and in December in India. “Multisearch near me” will map stores carrying the goods in the search.
Google adds to this what they have termed Immersive View. It uses billions of Street Views and aerial images to create a 3D model of a location which might have the searched for items. This can be useful to find a clear and contextual layout of a neighbourhood, a business or the entrance of a building. Immersive view also shows weather and traffic to help users plan their visits.
Google also announced Glanceable directions to allow drivers to view their route before tapping “start” or directly on the lock screen. This feature is available for both Android and iOS and will be launching in the coming months.
And to appeal to the high-tech segment of the search audience, built-in Google Maps software will enable users to choose the most energy-efficient route for electric vehicles, including suggesting the best charging stop, fast charging stations if the driver is in a rush, or supermarkets that have charging stations in case the user needs to run errands.
Communications technology company, Zoom has announced plans to lay off 1300 people -15 per cent of its workforce but the CEO will also feel the pain.
Zoom is the latest company to reduce its headcount in response to the slowing demand of remote work technology in the post pandemic world.
Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan wrote in a post that the company “didn’t take as much time as we should have to thoroughly analyze our teams or assess if we were growing sustainably, toward the highest priorities.”
But Yuan took responsibility, noting that he plans to cut his own salary by 98 per cent for the coming fiscal year and forgo his fiscal year 2023 corporate bonus.
Markets responded favourably – despite the disappointing earnings, the company’s shares closed up nearly 10 per cent after the company made the announcement.
In contrast, Paypal also announced plans to reduce its workforce by about 7 per cent or roughly 2000 jobs. Unlike Zoom, Paypal’s stock declined in today’s trading.
I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave….
ChatGPT has raised concerns by educational institutions and others globally for enabling AI plagiarism for essays, exams and even resumes and cover letters.
But even though Microsoft’s new AI-enabled Bing search engine is based on on OpenAI’s Chat GPT, it seems to have certain built-in ethical boundaries, and refuses prompts which it flags as “unethical”
Business Insider asked the new Bing, now available in trial format, to write a cover letter for a job application.
Bing refused. “I’m sorry, but I cannot write a cover letter for you. That would be unethical and unfair to other applicants.”
It did give the users some tips and links to several cover-letter writing resources.
In fact, Bing also wished the user good luck at the end, with a smiley emoji.
In contrast, ChatGPT generated a 270-word cover letter based on the job description.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Tuesday at the presentation of the new Bing that it’s important to develop AI that is “more aligned with human values, more aligned with what our preferences are — both individually and as a society.”
It’s important to note that Bing also cites where it got the information from. ChatGPT does not.
Source: Business Insider
And that’s the top tech stories for today. Hashtag Trending is produced by the ITWC podcast network and is heard Monday to Friday with a special weekend edition hosted by me where we feature interviews on key subjects in technology.
Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
If you follow stories about cybersecurity, why not check out our sister podcast CyberSecurityToday.
You can find all our podcasts and the text versions as well as more in-depth coverage itworldcanada.com and on technewsday.com in the US. You can also find instructions on how to get us on your smart speaker.
I’m Jim Love – talk to you tomorrow with the top tech news stories on Hashtag Trending.