Bing vs. Google: the new AI-driven search wars have started

The search engine landscape has changed dramatically over the years. In the 1990s, online users had access to a diverse range of search engines, including Excite, WebCrawler, Lycos, and AltaVista, which was my preferred choice at the time. However, Google’s introduction of PageRank changed the game. Google’s unique approach rated the relevance of web pages to search queries based not only on the presence of search terms (a technique employed by all search engines) but also on the number of relevant pages that linked to them, making its results superior to those of its competitors.

Now, with Microsoft’s recent decision to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT with Bing, the search engine wars are back in full force. For decades, online search has been centred on finding factual information. However, acquiring concrete answers from these facts requires the searcher to have a certain level of expertise in the search. My success as a writer, in part, is due to my expertise in search engines, having used them since the arrival of online database systems in the late 1970s and early 1980s, such as NASA RECON, Dialog (now ProQuest), and OCLC.

With advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), we are now progressing beyond search engines and facts to what Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims describes as “answer engines.” The new generation of engines provides answers to our queries through a chat interface, rather than simply providing facts. However, the accuracy of these answers is still debatable.

Despite this, people have been adopting ChatGPT, the AI engine behind it, and the chat interface as quickly as possible. A study by UBS found that ChatGPT had reached 100 million active users within two months of its launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application ever. However, people are already utilizing it to write school papers, articles, and press releases, but the results are often subpar. ChatGPT is not yet suitable for research and writing.

Yet, people are still using it because they value speed and convenience over accuracy. If they can get a decent outcome in a matter of seconds for free, they will go for it every time, regardless of its veracity. Google recognized this and went into a panic mode after Microsoft invested $10 billion in OpenAI, realizing that they would use it to revamp Bing, their long-standing, second-rate search engine. And since most people are seeking quick answers rather than factual information, Bing almost instantly became a potential threat.

The new Bing answer engine has surpassed the Google search engine. However, if you don’t know how to search effectively, you may still get incorrect results. Nevertheless, most people do not have the ability to assess an answer’s accuracy, so this doesn’t deter them. Publishers are already using it to eliminate writers, and it is even prevalent in spam, where people can profit from delivering fabricated stories.

Google quickly launched its AI-search chatbot, Bard, into the market. Still, it promptly stumbled upon an incorrect answer, demonstrating the importance of careful testing and development.

Ultimately, the company that gets it right first will win the search war. Despite Google’s recent missteps, it is still too early to count them out. The winner of this war will have a significant impact on both technology and business. However, we must also ask ourselves whether we can rely on AI-generated answers. While AI-generated responses may eventually become trustworthy, we are not there yet. Speak to me again in 2025, and perhaps it will be a different story. Until then, it is critical to treat both ChatGPT and Bard, as well as Bing and Google’s latest models, with caution if accuracy is a top priority. Otherwise, you may end up with inaccurate information.

May we help you?

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.