Microsoft tells people to prepare for AI search engine that goes Bing!

Redmond thinks OpenAI can be secret sauce to beat Google

Microsoft has announced new AI chatbot-powered search features supporting its search engine Bing and the browser Edge on Tuesday, promising to revamp the way netizens surf information on the internet. 

The revised Bing search engine uses large language models to summarize information from web pages. It's designed to be more flexible, providing users with more direct responses to queries that previously would have required them to browse the internet. 

Instead of listing several web pages for people to read through when planning a holiday, for example, the promised Chat feature, coming to Microsoft's Edge browser soon, can do things like automatically list top tourist attractions. 

The system operates like a chatbot, where users can refine their search by asking follow-up questions to get a more helpful response. Information is split across bullet points to make it easy to digest, and relevant links are provided too.  Chat can also reportedly help condense online reports and extract the most relevant information.

The second new feature, compose, allows users to prompt the chatbot into generating text for emails or LinkedIn posts, and can automatically adjust the tone and format to target specific audiences - at the user's own risk. Chat and compose aren't readily available yet, and users can ask to join a waitlist to download the new AI-powered Edge browser when it is launched over the coming weeks. 

Microsoft has released a sneak peek of Bing's upgraded search capabilities that users can try out on right now, though you need to join a wait list for the full experience. Users can type a query into the website, and a pop up will show text generated by the model. 

"We've also applied the AI model to our core Bing search ranking engine, which led to the largest jump in relevance in two decades. With this AI model, even basic search queries are more accurate and more relevant," Microsoft's Corporate Vice President & Consumer chief marketing officer, Yusuf Mehdi, explained in a blog post.

CEO Satya Nadella referred to these tools as an "AI copilot for the web," combining search, browsing, and chat into one. 

"AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search," Nadella said in a statement. "Today, we're launching Bing and Edge powered by AI copilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web."

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars into OpenAI, inking an exclusive deal to deploy the startup's large language models into its own products and services. The company said the updated Bing engine is powered by a "new, next-generation OpenAI large language model that is more powerful than ChatGPT and customized specifically for search," rumoured to be GPT-4. 

Large language models like ChatGPT are more general, and able to generate all types of text. They aren't normally primed for internet search, however, since they are trained on huge amounts of text scraped from the internet that loses relevancy over time. A model trained on text up until a specific date will tend to produce information from that era, making it unsuitable for supplying up-to-date data. 

Such models can also perform a wider range of tasks, like writing essays or poems and can sometimes generate toxic, inappropriate text. Whereas the new models customized for Bing are better at ranking, summarizing, and generating text from existing information on webpages. 

"We have developed a proprietary way of working with the OpenAI model that allows us to best leverage its power. We call this collection of capabilities and techniques the Prometheus model. This combination gives you more relevant, timely and targeted results, with improved safety," Microsoft said.

Not to be left behind, Google has also announced its own rival AI chatbot named Bard that will be rolled out for Google Search. Google is set to present its own technology in a live-streamed event tomorrow at 0830 ET (1330 UTC). ®

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