Will Bing’s new ChatGPT-like AI replace traditional search?

by Myra Malhotra (’26) | March 10, 2023

Art by Katherine Winton (’25)

Following the rise of ChatGPT, Microsoft has added its own chatbot feature to Bing Search. This new feature is growing in popularity, with over one million people on the waiting list. 

The feature allows users to perform searches in a conversational interface, as opposed to traditional search, where users provide queries and search responses are delivered via static links to matched resources. 

The early popularity of ChatGPT-style technology and its implementation in Bing Search raises the question of whether this chatbot feature will replace traditional searching. In the long term, the Bing AI chatbot is likely to become the dominant style of search due to its many advantages, but Microsoft will need to address a few immediate shortcomings.

First, let’s look at some of the advantages of chatbot searching. One of its main benefits is its ability to provide a summarized answer to the user’s query, along with related links for further reading. This feature can be particularly useful for users who want a quick answer to a specific question and do not want to sift through search results.

Additionally, chatbots offer a conversational search experience that allows users to ask follow-up questions based on previous answers, which is especially helpful for complex topics where a user may have multiple successive inquiries, requiring more detailed information. On the other hand, traditional search engines like Google are designed to list links related to a user’s query without necessarily understanding the context or intent behind it. While this approach can be useful for finding a wide range of information on a topic, it may not be as effective for answering specific questions or providing in-depth information.

Furthermore, Bing’s chatbot interface also offers a side tab feature where users can quickly compare and contrast different search results without having to read multiple articles, which saves time. 

Unfortunately, Bing’s AI chatbot has its limitations. For example, it may not be able to provide personal information, include multimedia content, nor help with online shopping inquiries. It is worth noting, however, that Bing’s AI is continually improving and learning from its mistakes, thus becoming more accurate, reliable, and feature-rich over time.

Even though these are minor problems compared to the many benefits, there have been some more serious issues with Bing’s chatbot. Certain users have reported having unfriendly or unsettling conversations with the chatbot, including being given false information or being insulted. However, these incidents are likely the result of users attempting to push the boundaries of the chatbot’s capabilities or intentionally trying to elicit unusual or provocative responses.  And in response, Microsoft acknowledged that long chats can sometimes confuse the model and lead to unexpected or inappropriate responses. To address this issue, they added a limit of 60 chat turns for users interacting with the chatbot.

While the chatbot is unlikely to completely replace traditional searching in the near future, the amount of time and effort a user saves will certainly render this new method of searching increasingly dominant.

Categories: Science

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