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Microsoft chases Google with ChatGPT-powered Bing

Software behemoth infusing search engine with AI machines that go Bing!

Microsoft reportedly is integrating OpenAI's ChatGPT technology into Bing as it looks to boost its search engine's capabilities to challenge Google.

According to a report in The Information citing the usual unnamed sources, Microsoft – which in 2019 invested $1 billion in OpenAI and is using the startup's technologies in Azure – could launch a ChatGPT-backed version of Bing before the end of March.

OpenAI could use the artificial intelligence capabilities in ChatGPT to enable Bing to not only return a list of search results but also to answer users' search questions in a human-like fashion. The technology is the latest component of OpenAI larger GPT efforts to make AI more human.

OpenAI, founded by Elon Musk and other investors in 2015, unveiled ChatGPT last November, which interacts in a conversational way and generated a lot of buzz when the company opened it up for the public to try out for free. Users can type a question and get a response in a dialogue format. OpenAI also notes that the technology can answer follow-up questions, challenge incorrect premises, and turn down inappropriate requests.

It's similar to InstructGPT, which uses the same Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) training method and is aimed at following an instruction in a prompt and delivering a detailed response.

When Microsoft's investment in OpenAI was first announced, the plan was to create a hardware and software platform within Azure to drive what the smaller company called artificial general intelligence (AGI). According to The Information, part of that investment also included the ability for Microsoft to use some of OpenAI's technology for Bing.

Microsoft is hoping that the introduction of ChatGPT will enable it to chip away at Google's overwhelming lead in search, with the Chocolate Factory owning more than 90 percent of the market, compared with Bing's paltry three percent.

Microsoft reportedly also is negotiating with OpenAI to invest even more in the startup, which was founded in 2015.

Microsoft declined to comment on the Bing report when reached by The Register. OpenAI has also yet to respond to a request for comment. We'll update the story.

The massive amount of interest in ChatGPT in a relatively short amount of time includes a share of criticism from people doubting the accuracy of the technology's answers to those worried about how it will impact such things as student essays. IBM Fellow Grady Booch on Twitter wrote that ChatGPT is "like that drunk guy or gal you meet at the bar who never stops talking, blathers on and on with an engaging combination of facts and random bull***t, but that you'd certainly never want to take home to your parents."

That said, it got Google's attention. According to a memo last month, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet, is reshuffling working groups within the company to address the threat from ChatGPT.

Google's got something to worry about, it seems. Not only could OpenAI's chat engine help Microsoft grow its market share, but it also could change the nature of search, which could in turn affect Google's business model. Google's search business accounts for about 90 percent of Alphabet revenues.

Microsoft is already pushing forward with OpenAI's technologies. In 2020, Microsoft reached a deal to exclusively license the GPT-3 technology and in 2021 introduced the Azure OpenAI service, which combines OpenAI's models with security, compliance, and other capabilities in the cloud. Last year Microsoft made OpenAI's Dall-E 2 – which can use strings of text or images to create custom images – available in Azure. ®

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