Who will win the AI search engine wars?

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Despite being far and away the dominant force in search engine technology, Google is seemingly tired of playing second fiddle when it comes to conversational, AI-powered chatbots.

Now, Google CEO Sundar Pichai says that's all about to change. Dismissing notions that chatbots threaten to upend the company's business model, Pichai confirmed that the tech monolith is planning to add chatbot functionality to its flagship search engine, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"The opportunity space, if anything, is bigger than before," Pichai told the newspaper.

Reversed Fates

While Google recently released its own standalone AI chatbot called Bard, it still has some catching up to do.

As of now, its rival Microsoft continues to get all the glory for its Bing AI search engine, which is powered by the same large language model (LLM) behind OpenAI's ludicrously popular ChatGPT.

It's a real sign of the times, considering Bing was always in the shadow of its far more popular search engine cousin Google Search, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of all searches worldwide.

Google is now looking for its answer to Microsoft's efforts. Pichai told the WSJ that the company is experimenting with several versions of a potential search chatbot that is conversational and allows for follow-up questions, much like its competitor's.

"Will people be able to ask questions to Google and engage with LLMs in the context of search? Absolutely," Pichai told the WSJ.

Industry Pressure

As the report notes, Google faces immense financial and investor pressure to fully establish itself in the AI search world.

In January, Google announced that it would lay off six percent of its workforce, or a whopping 12,000 workers, in an effort to reduce costs after supposedly overhiring during the work-from-home boom of the pandemic.

"We are definitely being focused on creating durable savings," Pichai told the WSJ. "We are pleased with the progress, but there is more work left to do."

Yet, some of these impending spending cuts may apply to its critical computing infrastructure, even though Google could use as much computing power as it can get, given that search AIs are immensely resource intensive.

Either way, we hope the Bing AI devs got a good happy cry in, because Google's not happy that scrappy underdogs are taking a shot at its throne.

More on search AI: A Specific Innocuous Phrase Sends Google's AI Into an Existential Crisis

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