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Two months back, Analytics India Magazine posted a story on how GPT-3 is quietly damaging Google Search. Now it all seems to be coming true with the launch of ChatGPT, a new model that interacts with humans using natural language. This new model from OpenAI uses a novel training method and is based on the GPT-3.5 architecture.
What makes ChatGPT impressive is that besides answering general queries, it can explain codes and scientific concepts, write basic academic essays, and even scripts for romcoms.
End of Google Search?
Like Galactica, ChatGPT took the internet by storm as members of the AI/ML community soon started trying their hand at it and posted their experiences on social media.
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While the general consensus for Galactica was that it was hallucinatory and produced results that were highly inaccurate, for ChatGPT, the general consensus was that it’s the “Google killer”.
Many are of the opinion that if ChatGPT is allowed to connect to the internet, it could possibly be what kills Google search. Currently, it does not have the ability to connect to the internet. “I think Google and teachers are dead for informational queries. I have tried many examples, and ChatGPT was 100x better than Google,” Victoriano Izquierdo, co-founder at Graphext, said.
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Jacky Chou, founder of Indexsy, also predicts something similar. “ChatGPT is what will finally take market share away from Google, especially for informational queries. About time someone disrupts their monopoly. Such exciting times we live in,” he said.
Full marks for being humble
Most people are loving ChatGPT because it not only produces accurate results but you can also converse with it. Ask any question to ChatGPT, and it feels like talking to a person. In fact, ChatGPT has been trained to engage with users’ queries in a more human-like fashion.
While a simple query on Google Search throws multiple links at you, ChatGPT gives you answers upfront. It saves the time you spend browsing multiple sites and blogs. When we asked the same question to ChatGPT, it said, “It’s difficult to compare ChatGPT and Google Search directly, as they serve different purposes and operate in different ways. While I may be able to provide helpful information or answers to some questions, I am not a search engine and do not have the ability to search the internet for information. In this sense, search engines like Google are better suited for finding specific information on the web,” it said.
Besides, discussions around the decline of Google search were taking place even before the advent of ChatGPT. “A major problem with search degradation is that lots of content is behind walled gardens now – apps, instant messaging/chat, and video platforms that aren’t as indexable as social video platforms,” a Reddit user said.
What’s in it for programmers?
When it comes to programmers, at least, ChatGPT can make Google Search obsolete because it can not only explain codes but also write complex codes well.
“ChatGPT by OpenAI does really well with coding questions. Here I ask how to build a 3-column footer with Tailwind. I then follow up and ask for a React version, a more realistic copy, and mobile responsiveness. It nails it perfectly,” Gabe Ragland, engineer at Lexica, said.
“ChatGPT is so impressive. Surprisingly it’s also super useful for coding-related questions. Would prefer an answer like this over going through multiple six years old Stackoverflow threads,” Felix Krause, security and privacy researcher, said.
When we asked ChatGPT if it could code, it said, “As a large language model trained by OpenAI, I do not have the ability to write or understand code.” It does not consider itself a coder.
“While I may be able to provide some general information about coding or programming, I am not a coder myself and do not have the ability to write or understand code,” it added.
What’s Google doing about it?
One of the reasons many believe Google Search has become worse over the years is because of its business model. After all, Google still makes a major chunk of its money through advertising. More than 80% of its revenue is based on ads.
When you search for something on Google, be it an app or a medical condition, Google first presents you with ads, followed by the information you seek.
Earlier this year, senior vice president at Google, Prabhakar Raghavan, admitted that TikTok’s search engine is becoming a threat to Google search. While speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference 2022, he said that nearly 40% of users between 18 and 24 in the US preferred to use TikTok or Instagram over Google Maps or Google Search when looking for a restaurant.
So, why is Google Search lagging behind? Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai once said that AI is probably the most important thing humanity has worked on. Over the years, Google has spent millions on AI research and has developed its own large language models, such as BERT.
Google has also developed LaMDA, a conversational neural language model, which controversially, a researcher at Google claimed, is sentient. Google also has the best AI talent working for it.
So, without doubt, the tech giant has the resources and the bandwidth at its disposal to develop something like ChatGPT or in fact, improve Google Search. So, is Google lacking in innovation?
Not really. In this regard, a Googler said, “There is a huge budget at Google related to staffing people to work on these kinds of models and do the actual training, which is very expensive because it takes a ton of computing capacity to train these super huge language models. However, what I gathered is that the economics of actually using these kinds of language models in the biggest Google products (e.g. search, Gmail) isn’t quite there yet.”