The Point: Why This Matters
- Microsoft’s big day. Microsoft announced that its Bing search engine and Edge web browser will be powered by advanced AI technology.
- More advanced than ChatGPT. The Bing search engine will use AI technology from OpenAI, which is more advanced than the popular ChatGPT.
- Chatbot chatter. Google recently announced plans to debut Bard, its own AI-driven tool with features similar to ChatGPT, creating a lot of discussion among business leaders about the use of AI in their respective search engines.
On Feb. 7, Microsoft announced that its Bing search engine and Edge web browser will now be powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that is more advanced than the popular ChatGPT. The Bing search engine, powered by what Microsoft refers to as AI copilot, will now include traditional search results along with answers to questions, content generation and chat conversations with users through the use of an intelligent chatbot that will appear alongside Bing's search results.
The new AI component will be able to summarize web pages, aggregate and synthesize data from multiple sources, and translate responses to queries from one language into another.
Microsoft's Bold Promise for Search
Microsoft announced several weeks ago that it planned to heavily invest in OpenAI, the organization that created ChatGPT. The sudden focus on ChatGPT in November of 2022 inflamed the interest of many of the tech giants, as well as educational institutions, news agencies, journalists and others who may be affected or impacted by AI-generated content. Microsoft’s announcement came one day after Google announced plans to soon debut Bard, its own AI-driven tool with features like ChatGPT.
This has created a lot of discussion among business leaders who are interested in the back-and-forth between Microsoft and Google regarding the use of AI in their respective search engines.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated in the announcement that, "This technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category," through the use of AI-driven functionality that has the potential to speed up and streamline content creation, task automation and even software creation. Through its partnership with OpenAI, the Bing search engine will use advanced AI that has been trained on a more powerful language model than the one that ChatGPT was based on.
The new Bing is based on what Microsoft refers to as the Prometheus model and uses OpenAI's AI technology that has been supplemented by real-time data from Bing. Unlike ChatGPT, this means that Bing's chatbot will be able to discuss current events.
What's Behind the New Microsoft Bing?
Microsoft began rolling out its revamped Bing search engine on Feb. 7, allowing prospective users to sign up to try out the new features. Bing users will notice the newly expanded search box that allows users to enter queries up to 1,000 characters long. Directly below the search box, users can select pre-made queries to see how Bing responds.
For instance, when a user clicks on "What art ideas [sic] can I do with my kid?" the search engine is prompted with the query "Arts and crafts ideas, with instructions for a toddler using only card" which returns a result in a chat box on the right (shown below) that states:
“I found some arts and crafts ideas for a toddler using only cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, paper and string. Here are some examples:
- You can make a cardboard box guitar with a tissue box, a cardboard tube, some rubber bands, paint and glue. You can find the instructions here.
- You can make a plastic bottle bird feeder with a 2-liter bottle, some chopsticks, twine, a pin and birdseed. You can find the instructions here.
- You can make plastic bottle flowers with empty water bottles, scissors, paint and pipe cleaners. You can find the instructions here.
I hope you and your toddler have fun with these crafts!”
There are limitations to using the new Bing until it is officially released. Users are unable to have a conversation with Bing Chat, and although it can provide responses to some queries, users cannot ask follow-up questions to the query results. Additionally, Bing does not respond to every query with a Bing Chat result, nor does every query produce a response that is any different from the current Bing results.
Lewis Farrell, senior marketing consultant at SingularityNet, a full-stack AI solution provider, told CMSWire that the Bing search engine's AI component will provide consumers with unprecedented levels of convenience and ease of use. “Users will save time and get the answers they need more quickly and efficiently if they can answer questions and provide relevant information without having to navigate through multiple pages or sources," Farrell said.
Related Article: 6 Ways ChatGPT May Change Digital Customer Experience
What's Behind Google’s AI-Driven Bard?
Google’s announcement, which came one day before Microsoft’s, stated that it was releasing Bard initially with a lightweight model version of LaMDA, a much smaller data model that uses significantly less computing power, which will allow Google to scale to more users, which in turn allows them to receive more feedback.
Although the technology will undoubtedly improve over time, at its current stage, the data that Bard generated that was shown by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his tweet and blog was found to be inaccurate. NewScientist reported that Grant Tremblay at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics quickly tweeted that the third statement in the example was not true and correctly stated that the “first image [of a planet outside of our solar system] was instead done by Chauvin et al. (2004) with the VLT/NACO using adaptive optics.”
LaMDA, which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications, made the news in June of 2022 when a Google engineer publicly stated that he believed LaMDA to be sentient and that it has feelings, a statement that Google vehemently denied.
Google has been developing various AI applications for years, with each rapidly outpacing the previous versions. BERT was one of its first Transformer models and helped Google AI more fully understand the intricacies of human language. Two years ago Google moved on to MUM, which was 1,000 times more powerful than the previous iteration, and features next-level and multilingual understanding of information. Today Google is using its latest AI technologies to build new ways of engaging with information, starting with search.
Bard is not yet available to the public, and is currently limited to “trusted external testers,” so not much is known about its use or limitations. Google views AI-driven search as a way to, as CEO Sundar Pichai put it, “distill complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats” with the result of gaining a deeper understanding of the big picture.
Related Article: We Know Chatbots Are Falling Short, But Why?
The Advantages of the New Generation of AI-Driven Search
There are several advantages that both the new Bing and Google Bard will have over the current iteration of ChatGPT. Each of them are language-based conversational AI models, but Bing and Bard are different from ChatGPT in these ways:
- Google Bard and Microsoft Bing will both be able to access and provide information from current up-to-date data, whereas ChatGPT is limited to the data that it was trained on before the end of 2021.
- Both of the AI-driven search engines will be able to access the vast data sets that have already been collected by their respective brands, which are both much, much larger data sets than those that were used to train ChatGPT. Google may have an edge over Bing in that regard, because it is used by many more users.
- Because of the vast amounts of data that both Bard and Bing have access to, they will have the ability to provide more accurate responses than ChatGPT.
'Change How Consumers Interact with Search Technology'
Aside from using AI in its Bing search engine, Microsoft foresees the technology being used to enhance many applications. Until recently, users of both Bing and Google used search engines to locate websites that contained information about specific topics, including factual information, entertainment and shopping.
Microsoft’s announcement this week highlighted the trend of consumers using search engines to find answers to more complex questions and tasks. “Microsoft's AI-powered Bing search engine has the potential to significantly influence consumer behavior by making search faster, easier and more personalized,” said Farrell. “The combination of traditional search results, questions answered by content generation and chat conversations with a smart chatbot will change how consumers interact with search technology.” Farrell believes that this will likely increase Bing's search engine adoption and drive further innovation in the search and AI industries.
Microsoft’s vision for the use of AI technology is about changing the paradigm of the search engine to bring together search, browsing and chat into one unified experience.
- Improved search: The new Bing provides more relevant results for simple queries, along with a new sidebar with more comprehensive answers for those who want them.
- More complete answers: Bing reviews web results and summarizes the answer the user is looking for.
- A new type of chat: For more complex searches the new Bing provides a new, interactive chat experience that enables users to refine their search until they get the answer they are searching for.
- Inspirational content: The new Bing promises to generate inspirational content, including email, along with links to perform specific tasks, and includes citations for all of its sources.
- An enhanced Edge browser experience: Edge will feature new AI capabilities, a new look, and additional functionalities including chat and content composition.
Your Content Still Matters
As the data that both the new Bing and Google Bard use to formulate responses comes from publicly available web data, it behooves brands to continue to produce quality content.
Mihae Ahn, vice president of marketing at ProServe IT, a Canada-based computer support and services provider and Microsoft Gold Partner, told CMSWire that as a marketer, she uses AI tools like ChatGPT to bring more efficiency to her content marketing effort. And, as such, she feels a sense of responsibility for generating authentic, real and creative content.
Ahn suggested that the search results and the AI-generated content will only be as good and as true as the information already available online.
“The authentic content we, the marketers, generate will feed into the pool of resources the AI tool can pull from," explained Ahn. When she saw the news about Bing, one of her first thoughts was that as content creators, we also need to be in the driver's seat. "If we take responsibility as content creators to feed quality information to the search engine by continuing to do what we have already been doing (i.e., generating quality content), it will be paid off with more trust earned by consumers," she said.
Final Thoughts on Microsoft's AI-Driven Bing
ChatGPT and associated technologies have effectively changed the way that consumers interact with machines, allowing them to have conversations that feel like a normal interaction with a very smart friend — or, let's say, a very interesting friend.
By leveraging the benefits of AI in its Bing search engine, Microsoft is poised to change the search engine paradigm and the way that consumers search for information online.