After six years of truce, two tech giants Microsoft and Google will face each other again over the future of artificial intelligence
Microsoft is going to take on Google in the battle for the future of search. At today’s press conference, Microsoft is expected to detail plans to bring the OpenAI ChatGPT chatbot to its Bing search engine. Google tried to get ahead of the competition yesterday by hastily announcing Bard, its ChatGPT competitor, yesterday and promising more details about its vision for the future of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies at a press conference on Wednesday.
The announcements set the two tech giants, known for their repeated skirmishes with each other, on a new course for the right to determine the future of search.
Both companies are chasing a revolutionary new future for search engines. In this future, search results are more like short, simple answers generated by artificial intelligence. Google yesterday showed off the capabilities of its Bard chatbot, which is very similar to those of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Microsoft is expected today to announce a new interface in Bing, similar to ChatGPT, that will answer questions in a way that no other search engine has been able to before.
Natural language answers can be revolutionary for search. ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, made conversational artificial intelligence a mainstream phenomenon last year. So if the Bing integration works as intended, the use cases for this bundle can really cut down on hours of research, spreadsheet work, programming, and more.
Based on the leaks, not only could Microsoft introduce ChatGPT inside Bing, but they could also make the chatbot publicly available for testing by Bing users. It’s an ambitious move that could put a lot of pressure on Google after years of dominating search. While Microsoft’s rapid commercialization of OpenAI models will daunt bitter rival Google, what’s most interesting right now is just how powerful Bing’s ChatGPT capabilities will be.
Microsoft may have more trump cards. While ChatGPT is based on GPT-3.5, a large language model released last year, Bing’s chat functionality is rumored to be based on the yet-to-be-announced GPT-4 model.
After Google was initially wary of rival ChatGPT over fears of “reputational risk,” a December report from The New York Times paints a picture of wake-up calls from within Google over ChatGPT’s success. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin reportedly advised Google executives and pitched ideas at a level of engagement not seen since the couple left their day-to-day roles in 2019.
But Google also has something to offer. Bard, an AI chatbot, is built using Google’s LaMDA technology, which is similar to the OpenAI GPT series of AI language models. Google says it plans to make its Bard chatbot more widely available in the coming weeks.
Google also invested $300 million in AI company Anthropic, founded by former OpenAI researchers. Anthropic is doing research on AI language models and has created its own ChatGPT competitor named Claude. The Anthropic chatbot has yet to be published, but the company recently revealed that Google Cloud is its “preferred cloud provider,” similar to how Microsoft is the exclusive cloud provider for OpenAI thanks to a multi-billion dollar investment.
Clearly, Google is not going to sit back and let Microsoft easily take over the AI-powered new search industry.
Until 10 years ago, Microsoft treated Google as a political opponent: newspaper ads used privacy concerns, parody videos, and even anti-Google merchandise. At one point, Google even blocked the YouTube app developed by Microsoft for Windows Phone. Then Google Maps suddenly stopped working on Windows Phone, and Google decided to drop support for Gmail ActiveSync, which affected the synchronization of personal Gmail contacts and calendar items for new Windows Phone devices.
It was clear at that moment that Google would do everything in its power to prevent Microsoft from succeeding in the mobile space, just as Microsoft would try to prevent Google from succeeding with the Chromebook. It was a confusing situation that was only resolved when Microsoft and Google struck a truce in 2015. It is reported that the agreement was concluded for the purpose of cooperation and in order to avoid legal battles and complaints to regulatory authorities.
The truce ended after 6 years in April 2021, a month after Google criticized Microsoft for trying to “break the open web principle” in a spat over Australian laws that force Google to pay news publishers for their content.
Recently, Microsoft has highlighted the importance of its partnership with OpenAI, showing how important this collaboration is to the company’s AI ambitions. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Redmond will turn AI models into the next big computing platform:
The next big wave of computing is being born as the Microsoft Cloud transforms the world’s most advanced AI models into a new computing platform. We are committed to helping our customers use our platforms and tools to do more with less today and innovate for the future in the new era of AI.
Microsoft is preparing to integrate artificial intelligence technologies into its own applications and services, as well as into its flagship OS. “AI will literally change the way you use Windows,” Panos Panay, the company’s executive vice president, said at CES last month.
Microsoft can take this opportunity to show exactly how artificial intelligence will change the way we use Windows. The company may also influence chip architecture development to help OEMs leverage AI models in future versions of Windows. The new AMD Ryzen 7000 mobile processors are the first x86 chips to include a custom AI engine capable of running various AI-powered Microsoft Windows Studio features. Intel also plans to bring artificial intelligence capabilities to PCs with Meteor Lake processors.
Microsoft is also developing the Azure OpenAI service, which allows enterprises to integrate tools such as DALL-E into their own cloud applications. Microsoft has promised that ChatGPT will be available soon on Azure OpenAI. According to rumors, this could happen as early as February.
It all depends on how well Microsoft integrates OpenAI models into its own applications and services. Microsoft missed the mobile device market with its failed attempt called Windows Phone. OpenAI could give Microsoft an early edge in future battles with the AI competitor. The company wants to prove that a well-timed $10 billion investment will pave the way for innovative technologies that will change “almost everything.”
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