This week Microsoft, Google and Chinese company Baidu showed off ChatGPT-inspired technology to reinvent web search.

This week, the world’s biggest search engine companies entered the race to use a powerful new breed of “generative artificial intelligence” algorithms.

Most notably, Microsoft announced that it is repurposing Bing, which trails Google in popularity, to use ChatGPT, the insanely popular and often surprisingly capable chatbot created by artificial intelligence startup OpenAI, Wired wrote on the topic.

The all-new Bing is equally conversational. Demonstrations the company did at its Redmond headquarters and a quick test drive by WIRED’s Aarian Marshall, who attended the event, show that it can effortlessly generate a vacation itinerary, summarize highlights from product reviews, and answer complex questions, such as whether a piece of furniture will fit in a particular car.

It’s a far cry from Microsoft’s helpless and hopeless Office Clippy assistant, which some readers may recall bothering them every time they create a new document.

Not to be outdone by Bing’s artificial intelligence reboot, Google said this week that it will launch a competitor to ChatGPT called Bard. (The name was chosen to reflect the creative nature of the algorithm that lies beneath it, says one Google employee.)

The company, like Microsoft, has shown how the underlying technology can answer some Web searches and said it will start making the artificial intelligence behind the chatbot available to developers.

Last but not least in the new AI search wars is Baidu, China’s largest online search engine company. It joined the fray by announcing another ChatGPT competitor, Wenxin Yiyan (文心一言), or “Ernie Bot” in English. Baidu says it will release the bot to the market after the completion of internal tests in March this year.

These issues could be a problem if you’re trying to use technology to make web search more useful. Microsoft has apparently fixed some common flaws with ChatGPT in Bing, but the real test will come when it becomes widely available. One of Bard’s responses, which Google proudly boasts about, incorrectly claims that the James Webb Space Telescope was the first to take a picture of a planet outside our solar system.

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