Will ChatGPT Dethrone Google?

Will ChatGPT Replace Google? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you couldn’t have failed to notice the rise of OpenAI’s new artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, ChatGPT.

While the technology isn’t exactly new – the GPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, and it’s been around in some form since at least 2018 – the conversational aspect of this latest iteration has captured the popular imagination. It was reckoned to have surpassed the 100 million monthly active users mark in January this year, making it the world’s fastest-growing application of all time.

Moreover, with metrics like that, it’s unsurprising that OpenAI is attracting some powerful suitors of late. Indeed, Microsoft – who already had a relationship with the start-up – has further cemented its collaboration with a “multi-billion dollar investment” into the fledgling enterprise.

That said, MSFT isn’t driven by altruistic intentions. The American multinational tech corporation will want something in return for its backing of ChatGPT, leading to speculation from industry insiders as to what that might actually be.

One of the most plausible theories is that Microsoft has plans to muscle in on Google’s de facto search monopoly. In fact, no less an august publication than the journal Nature recently suggested that “AI chatbots are coming to search engines“- and in doing so, could ultimately change the relationship between humans and machines.

But is this true? Is Bing, Microsoft’s native web browser, really about to usurp the search engine king’s throne? And if so, is it about time the incumbent took the threat a little more seriously?

Source: Unsplash

Google Is Definitely Vulnerable

Despite its wide range of other business interests, Alphabet is, at heart, a marketing platform.

Indeed, the company’s Advertising arm accounted for $59 billion of the $76 billion in total sales it recorded in the fourth quarter, with just $8.0 billion of that coming from the firm’s video streaming service, YouTube.

In fact, according to the company’s latest earnings disclosure, $43 billion – or 57% – of its ad money originated from its Search segment alone.

As such, the highly-concentrated nature of Google’s cash flows is what makes the company so susceptible to the arrival of any competent competitor such as OpenAI.

Given this reality, it’s natural that shareholders would be worried about the threat posed to Google by a disruptive force like ChatGPT. Alphabet certainly isn’t a one-trick pony, but its other wings are not nearly as substantial as its search efforts.

ChatGPT Isn’t The Finished Product

With so much attention recently directed at generative AI technologies, the old adage that not all publicity is good publicity appears to hold true.

In fact, ChatGPT is discovering this in real-time. Critics of the application have been scathing about some aspects of the program’s moving parts, pointing out that chatbots are notorious for rendering factually incorrect responses – or, in many cases, just “dumber than you think.

Moreover, it’s unclear whether OpenAI’s invention can double as a search engine anyway. Web browsers are incredibly sophisticated feats of engineering and are not easily replicated. This is precisely why Google enjoys its dominance – and why its name has been a synonym for online searching for decades.

On top of that, the dataset that ChatGPT was trained on had its cut-off in October 2021. This means the AI is unaware of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has yet to learn who the newest Super Bowl winner is. And for a functioning search engine, that makes it next to useless.

Google Is Already A Leader In The AI Sphere

Much of the debate surrounding the Google vs ChatGPT rivalry assumes the Mountain View-headquartered conglomerate is the junior player in this battle. But this is a gross mischaracterization of the truth.

For instance, as far back as 2017, Sundar Pichai, Alphabet’s current CEO, loudly declared that Google would become an “AI-first” company. This itself was hardly a revelation; the firm had acquired Demis Hassabis’s artificial intelligence research laboratory, DeepMind, three years earlier, and was making headway with its Self-Driving Car Project, now known as Waymo.

In fact, few businesses can boast a more distinguished pedigree regarding innovations in the AI space. Google utilizes artificial intelligence in almost every venture it undertakes, whether optimizing advertising strategies or streamlining its cloud computing offerings. Indeed, in recognition of this, Gartner named the company a “Leader “in its Cloud AI Developer Services report of 2022.

OpenAI Could Face Some Serious Headwinds In The Future

Even if ChatGPT proves to be worth the hype it’s currently receiving, that doesn’t mean it will be a success in the long term.

OpenAI is facing a barrage of criticism for how it appropriates other people’s work to train its algorithms. Moreover, the one-time not-for-profit research is now a for-profit venture, prompting some – including News Corp – to seek compensation for using their proprietary content.

And this isn’t the only instance of a generative AI being taken to task. A group of artists is also suing Midjourney – a text-to-image generator allegedly based on the Stable Diffusion model – for much the same reason.

There is a myriad of other ethical issues that could trip ChatGPT up too. The regulatory framework for this kind of new technology has yet to be thrashed out, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that when it is, it won’t be detrimental to OpenAI and its peers. All in all, the future is uncertain – and, as every investor knows, that’s rarely an enviable thing.

Will ChatGPT Replace Google: Conclusion

To portray Alphabet as being on the cusp of demise simply because a relatively untested large language model has gained some temporary notoriety is jumping the gun.
However, technology is constantly evolving. But if Google mutates quicker than ChatGPT, the search engine giant should win the arms race over time.

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