Is “googling” over?  This is how generative AI chatbots work as search engines |  Technology

Is “googling” over? This is how generative AI chatbots work as search engines | Technology

Is “googling” over?  This is how generative AI chatbots work as search engines |  Technology

Since its launch in November 2023, ChatGPT has continued to be talked about, and not just for its incredible ability to maintain fluid conversations with users. One of the most frequently asked questions after its arrival was how the OpenAI chatbot — and those that other companies perfected over the following months — would change the way we search and ask questions on the Internet. That is, if Google Search, which until now had a near-absolute monopoly on web searches, were to be replaced. In Spain, it is by far the most popular search engine: 96% of users use it, 91% globally. Although it has been the only tool for decades, so much so that in everyday language it is common to replace word search with Google— Lately, users have started to question its effectiveness.

One reason is the amount of sponsored content, spam or low-quality websites driven by search engine optimization techniques, which however have undermined its credibility, according to a recent study carried out by German researchers. In this scenario, it is not surprising that several alternatives already on the market are beginning to be tested, including Gemini, the artificial intelligence (AI) model that replaced Bard, the chatbot that Google hastily launched to compete with ChatGPT. Some younger users, belonging to Generation Z, have started looking for answers even on TikTok. So what are Google’s chances of actually being replaced? Do AI chatbots work as well as search engines?

Search engines with AI

Those who wish to remain loyal to Google will find in Gemini your natural heir, even if the company insists on the idea that the two tools are independent and meet two different needs. The model, which officially replaces Bard since the beginning of February, has a Web page and an application (even if the latter is not yet available in European Union countries). The chatbot allows all searches that were normally intended for Search: from the meaning of a word, to the weather in a city, including news or culinary recipes.

Microsoft’s Bing also allows advanced searches thanks to the implementation of ChatGPT. To the tool, which was first introduced as Bing Chat then was renamed Copilotaccessible from the Microsoft Edge browser, by selecting the AI ​​plugin icon in the toolbar.

A probably less known and increasingly recognized option is Preplexity, a one-year-old startup which was created by engineers who worked on artificial intelligence research at OpenAI and Meta. Experts in the field praise this online tool, which even received funding from Jeff Bezos, president and founder of Amazon. Due to the results it offers, its interface and the possibility of citing sources – if you ask a question about a current event, in addition to providing a written answer, it allows you to click on the news of web logs – this is probably the one most similar to Google search.

Like Search, these services can be used without paying, since they have free versions that work well, although with certain limitations: for example, the number of queries that can be made or they stop working if the traffic volume is too high. To avoid these restrictions, users can choose to subscribe. Gemini, Copilot and Perplexity have launched premium programs for $20 per month (the same price as ChatGPT 4, the most advanced version of OpenAI’s chatbot).

Perplexity’s response to the Velencia fire.Clara-Angela Brascia

How to use them

Instead of typing a series of keywords, as is customary on Google, queries in AI search engines are more useful if they are asked in the form of a question, especially when they begin with the formulas ” what is” or “how to do”. Perplexity recommends using natural, everyday language and allows, thanks to the “Discover” tool, to access popular queries – normally related to current events – made by other users. Like ChatGPT, these search engines allow you to ask again or refine the search if the answer provided is not sufficient. Copilot also gives the possibility to choose between three different conversation styles: more creative, more balanced or more precise.

The biggest difference from Google search is that while the latter’s results are a list of links to different web pages – including sponsored content, which is creating so much fuss and confusion lately – AI chatbots provide a single answer in the form of a summary. of all the information they were able to gather. However, this aspect is probably also the most problematic, as it raises doubts about the veracity of the information. To work, these artificial intelligence platforms analyze large groups of data collected from the Internet, called large linguistic models, and then apply algorithms to produce logical answers, although not all of them explain the process by which they arrived at these conclusions.

The response from Gemini, Google’s generative AI tool, on the “Koldo case”.Clara-Angela Brascia

Furthermore, even when they provide the source of the information – a tool present only in the paid version – it is generally random. Asked about him Koldo affair, in which former PSOE minister José Luis Ábalos was involved, ChatGPT responds with three paragraphs of 250 words written from two articles from two different newspapers, very distant due to their editorial line. If you try to regenerate the answer, the second result turns out to be broader and with more sources (up to four different newspapers).

On the other hand, Gemini provides a summary with the keys to the file and an update on the day of the search. At the end of the text it offers a series of links to expand on the information, although in some cases they are YouTube videos from content creators. To view the sources of the answer, you must click on the Google icon: this way, the sentences generated from certain articles appear underlined. Copilot’s response is the most concise of all — only with 150 words —, but the same thing is where most of the sources have been consulted: every time it is reported it is extrapolated from a different message, and the final text appears with more contents related to it. the subject.

Perplexity is the search engine that provided the worst results to the question “what is the Koldo case”. The first response states that this is a legal matter, but without more information on the subject, it is unable to provide specific details. Then he quotes the footballer Koldo Aguirre Bidaurrazaga; Koldo Larrañaga, hotelier convicted of the murders of lawyer Begoña Rubio and businessman Agustín Ruiz; and finally Koldo García, advisor to former minister Ábalos. Unlike Gemini and ChatGPT, Perplexity has not been able to formulate a response regarding the current story that is monopolizing the newspaper pages.

The response from Bing’s chatbot, Copilot, on the ‘Koldo case’.Clara-Angela Brascia

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