The End Of Google?
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 04 January 2023

There are moments where technology changes just enough to disrupt a situation that you thought would survive forever. Is the success of foundational models like ChatGPT one of them? Google seems to think so.

Can you remember what we had before Google? How did we find anything on the web before search engines? It wasn't easy and when Google automated the process of finding answers to queries we all jumped on board - because it worked. Over time the clever algorithm, Page Rank, that Google used has been diluted by ad-hoc methods that are kept very secret. The reason for not coming clean and revealing the algorithm is that the web has become an SEO battleground. If you know the rules that Google uses to value a website, you can make use of them to make it value a useless website that just happens to earn you some revenue.

SEO is the reason we all think that Google's search results have become worse. If you are a programmer and you search for informative articles on a topic, you will know that results are generally stuffed with useless pages of recycled and usually not-quite-right explanations. Finding out how to do something is getting harder and it's because generating good stuff is hard and recycling what is already on the web is very easy.

I've long thought that the eventual solution to the problem would be one of the advantages of AI. Indeed, Google has admitted to using more AI-based methods in its search engine, but again details are scarce to avoid SEO making use of them. Even so, there isn't much evidence that AI is making things better, but its early days.

Now we have something new. Microsoft, which has put up $1 Billion in funding to Open AI, claims to be working to incorporate ChatGTP into Bing.

This isn't the AI improvement to search I was looking forward to. This is Microsoft attempting to disrupt the current status quo where Google tops the search engine pile. It seems that Google is worried enough to be talking about it being a code red for its revenue stream. 

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Surely the solution for Google is to go down the same road. After all, it is as big a force in AI as Open AI, if not bigger? The problem is that it is a road that Google might very well not want to go down as it leads to the same revenue dive as being overtaken by Microsoft.

The problem is the very nature of ChatGTP. The idea of a search engine is that you type in a query and it directs you to the sites that can best help you. ChatGTP doesn't follow this approach. It reads the entire web and builds a model that represents the same knowledge. You ask it a question and it will generate an answer - no traffic generation needed. In this sense ChatGTP becomes, and replaces, the web. This is the sense in which it is a Google-killer. It cuts off Google's revenue-generating direction of traffic to other websites.

There are so many problems with the idea of using ChatGTP in Bing it is difficult to know where to begin. The most obvious is that there is no validation of the results offered up. Chat GTP is notorious for inventing answers that sound plausible, but are simply wrong. This isn't so much a problem for programming as the validity can be checked by running the program. Who knows, perhaps the very unreliable nature of ChatGTP will manifest itself at such a level that we all end up preferring Google search!

Another question is why would content creators bother to create if programs like ChatGTP are simply going to read it and regurgitate the same knowledge. Perhaps it isn't Google that is in danger. After all, with a sufficiently good version of ChatGTP, Google could simply run adverts as part of the answers it offers and cut out all of the other websites. This sounds more like the death of the web than anything else.

Whatever you might think, it is clear that we are entering a patch of turbulence.

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More Information

Microsoft aims for AI-powered version of Bing - The Information

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 January 2023 )