Microsoft launches ChatGPT-powered version of Bing
Image credit: Microsoft and Canva
The revamped version of search engine Bing will incorporate the latest artificial intelligence technology, the company has said.
Microsoft has announced it will leverage the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT technology, incorporating it into a new version of its search engine Bing.
The move has been seen as a threat to Google, which currently has dominance in web search, and has also recently announced the development of its own AI-powered chatbot technology, Bard.
“AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO at Microsoft. “Today, we’re launching Bing and Edge powered by AI co-pilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web.”
"The race starts today," he added.
ChatGPT is a free app that generates text in response to a prompt, including articles, essays, jokes and even poetry. It has become spectacularly popular in the short time since its release in November, while simultaneously raising inevitable concerns about copyright and plagiarism.
Microsoft, an early investor in OpenAI, has been perceived as trying to take advantage of the popularity of the chatbot in order to boost that of Bing.
The new version of Bing can be previewed at Bing.com, and Microsoft has suggested the new features could be available to use within weeks.
Currently, web browsers register 10 billion search queries a day. However, Microsoft estimates that around half of them go unanswered.
Microsoft has said Bing features could work as "an AI co-pilot for the web". Rather than just returning a list of websites and adverts, results pages will also have a sidebar where a chatbot will provide more detailed answers, and even generate new ones.
The company said the new Bing will provide references for where it's sourcing information from – addressing a criticism of ChatGPT, which sometimes get its facts wrong.
In a note to investors after the announcement, analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities said he thought that Microsoft's investment would "massively boost" the firm's ability to compete.
"This is just the first step on the AI front ... as [the] AI arms race takes place among Big Tech," he said.
ChatGPT’s owners OpenAI recently received a huge cash boost from Microsoft, who said it was making a “multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment” in the artificial intelligence startup. Microsoft described its new agreement as the third stage of a growing partnership with San Francisco-based OpenAI that began with a $1bn investment in 2019.
The company has also recently announced a new premium tier of Microsoft Teams – its messaging software – that will feature ChatGPT, including a feature that automatically generates notes and highlights of meetings.
Microsoft said Bing will use OpenAI technology that is even more advanced than the ChatGPT technology unveiled last year. The powers will also be incorporated into its Edge web browser.
Google's response to the success of ChatGPT – the chatbot Bard – is still in development and will be used by a group of testers before being rolled out to the public in the coming weeks, the firm said.
Bard is built on Google's existing large language model Lamda, which one engineer said was sentient. The company denied the accusations.
"Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world's knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models," wrote Google boss Sundar Pichai in a blog.
"Soon, you'll see AI-powered features in search that distil complex information and multiple perspectives into easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web."
ChatGPT was launched to the public at the end of November 2022, but has already caused a sensation with its credible results in self-generated natural-language writing, although OpenAI has been clear that the software remains a work in progress.
Experts have, however, raised concerns about the tool's potential to spread misinformation, as well as the difficulties of making a chatbot legally responsible for producing harmful or false information.
In order to address these concerns, OpenAI launched last week an "imperfect" software tool to help identify text generated by artificial intelligence.
Microsoft’s announcement comes only a few days after announcing that it would be cutting 10,000 jobs – approximately 5 per cent of its global workforce – in the latest round of redundancies to hit the tech industry
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