By Mayank Chhaya-
Two Indian American tech honchos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, are counting on artificial intelligence (AI) to fundamentally overhaul their search engines.
Even though the balance right now is improbably lopsided at about 93% for Google to about 3 % for Microsoft, Nadella says the race between the two is on with his search engine Bing now being powered by OpenAI which it recently acquired.
Early reviews of the AI-powered Bing suggest that it may no longer remain the search laggard that it has been for close to decade and a half as Google has completely dominated the space. Perhaps the biggest differentiator for Bing’s new avatar is that the search box allows you to see all the 1000 characters of your request. In Google’s case it has been a one-line search.
Another feature that sets Bing apart is its austere, minimalist layout where the search box says “Ask me anything.”
However, perhaps as a worried response to Nadella’s push for AI-powered search, Pichai too has unveiled its own chatbot Bard.
This writer tried a couple of Bing’s features such as voice search and image search. When asked by voice to find information about the iconic Hindi cinema singer Mohammed Rafi it quickly produced several bits of useful information. Its image search function produced several similar-looking works of art in response to two painted by me. One of them was a tribute to Vincent van Gogh and the other Edvard Munch. Bing threw up several works by both.
A relatively minor differentiator, which seems to matter quite a bit to many, is that Bing offers a default homepage background unlike Google where you have to choose on your own.
A cursory use of Bing’s limited features version suggests that Google will have a serious competition which by implication makes it Nadella versus Pichai.
Currently, there is a waitlist for new Bing features but a way to get around is to make it the default browser and download the app on your phone.
That ChatGPT, OpenAI’s hugely popular tool, is behind the new Bing makes the Microsoft search engine a serious contender to eat into Google’s long dominance. Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in AI and Bing is its battering ram to break down a few walls put up by Google. For instance, it offers written summaries of searches, a feature that Google does not have. It also helps create trip itineraries, meal plans and so on.
What is remarkable about the new Bing is that it enhances the era of instant information gratification that people have come to expect of the 21st century internet.
Something that stood out while searching on Bing is that the same question produced different results each time it was repeated. That has been attributed to the fact that it draws on updated information.
Nadella was quoted as saying about new Bing this on Tuesday: “AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search. Today, we’re launching Bing and Edge powered by AI copilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web.”
It is estimated that there are 10 billion queries a day on search engines, half of which do not get at all or fully addressed.