Microsoft, Baidu, Google Reinvent Search Using Large Language Models

Microsoft and Baidu, in separate announcements on Tuesday, provided more information on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in each company’s respective search engine. The news was announced one day after Google announced changes to its search engine.

How will these changes affect publishers?

Microsoft plans to leverage large language model (LLM) technology from OpenAI to enhance Bing search and the Edge browser. 

The products are powered by a next-generation LLM from OpenAI that leverages key findings from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5 to create a more holistic experience for searchers. 

“It's a new day in search,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during an event, adding that the latest version of the Bing search engine will use an updated ChatGPT technology known as the Prometheus Model. It aims to invite users to ask questions and receive answers in their preferred spoken language.

Someone searching on Bing may want to create an itinerary for a five-day trip, for example. The chatbot will have the ability to create an itinerary and describe the trip, linking sources for the information.

The products will open to millions of users in the coming weeks in limited preview on desktop, and soon will expand to mobile. 

“This move represents an attempt at a shift in paradigm for how internet users engage with Search, significantly broadening the use cases for Search products," wrote Raymond James analysts in a research note published Wednesday. “It also signals MSFT’s clear ambitions to position themselves in large, growing market like Digital Advertising ($500B+, with $200B+ in Search).”

Analysts also believe that Microsoft’s move -- along with those of Google and Baidu -- will encourage a shift in user behavior and thinking about the capabilities of a search engine. 

While the traditional function of a search engine has been to funnel traffic to sites that contain the information searchers are looking for, Raymond James analysts  are concerned about how publishers will react to potentially being disintermediated by an LLM-powered search experience. 

Baidu also on Tuesday confirmed an earlier report that it will complete internal testing and launch its ChatGPT-like bot in March. 

The company on Twitter introduced Ernie, its AI project initially proposed from a language model built in 2019. Ernie stands for enhanced representation through knowledge integration.

Baidu plans to make the service available as an app before integrating it into its search engine. A version of it is also capable of generating images. 

Google on Monday also announced its search conversational bot Bard, built in AI. The company plans to use information from the web to respond to queries or to provide detailed information on questions asked.
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