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Will AI Chatbots Completely Replace Traditional Search?


    Everyone is talking about ChatGPT — and for good reason. The AI chatbot is finally demonstrating the potential of artificial intelligence to perform tedious tasks with speed and effectiveness. Just as a user might input a query into Google’s search bar, ChatGPT users can make requests of the chatbot, but instead of returning hundreds of pages of web results that a user must sift through to find relevant information, the chatbot supplies the relevant information directly and perhaps completes the user’s entire task in a matter of seconds.

    Artificial intelligence

    Excited by this outstanding leap forward in AI technology, many people are wondering whether AI chatbot services will completely replace traditional search in the coming years. Supporting this idea is the fact that so many enormous tech companies have radically increased their AI funding, and Google has released its own chatbot solution to compete with ChatGPT, called Bard. It might not seem that ludicrous that Bard could completely take over Google search over the next decade, especially as AI technologies become even more sophisticated.

    As exciting (or frightening) as the total replacement of traditional search might be, most experts dismiss the notion as incredibly unlikely. Here’s why.

    AIs Don’t Know Fact From Fiction

    AIs don’t inherently know the objective truth of any matter. In the world of AI development, “hallucination” is the term used to describe AI responses that are not reflective of reality. Hallucination occurs because AIs lack the same innate language capacities as humans have; they cannot naturally discern the difference between factual and non-factual sentences the same way that people can track a fact regardless of how a sentence is structured.

    Just like people, AI tools must learn the difference between right and wrong, which they usually do through intensive training by developers. Unfortunately, if training is incomplete or ineffective in any way, an AI chatbot will inevitably provide answers that are imperfect in some way. At worst, an AI could provide web users with outright falsehoods, and at best, their offerings might be missing critical information. Neither of these problems is acceptable to a web user who needs complete and accurate information.

    Currently, both ChatGPT and Bard assume that every piece of information they receive is true, which is a dangerous way to train an AI. In the past, similar AIs deployed online have rapidly been corrupted through the intentional feeding of false information. Unless and until AI developers can find a way to prevent hallucinations and ensure the accuracy of chatbot responses, human users will always need to double-check information they receive from chatbots with their own research.

    AIs Won’t Do Everything

    Web users can employ Google to find information on anything they can imagine (and many, many things they can’t). Assuming that filters like SafeSearch are turned off, search engines do nothing to limit web users in the topics they can explore online. The same is not true of current chatbots. Neither ChatGPT nor Bard will come close to interacting with sensitive topics, especially content that is potentially harmful or offensive. While savvy chatbot users have found ways around these restrictions, developers are always quick to close loopholes, and it is probable that certain topics will always be off-limits to every chatbot user.

    Though the restrictions on certain topics are reasonable, they do inhibit the functionality of chatbots as replacements for web search. People will continue to seek information on all manner of topics, and if chatbots cannot deliver, they will need another tool for helping them access the content they crave.

    AI-supported Search Is Superior

    As utopian as it may seem to rely on an all-knowing computer for any information, the reality is that AIs are not ready to replace traditional search. Instead, web users should look for AI augmentations to traditional search, which should help Google and other search engines better understand user intent to ensure they can deliver higher-quality results. Even better, businesses can continue to leverage AI-supported search with help from a trusted Phoenix SEO firm, so web users can more easily connect with the products and services they need.

    People are right to be excited about ChatGPT and other AI chatbots, as they mark an important advancement in the capabilities and applications of artificial intelligence. However, the age of AI is not yet fully upon us, so we should settle comfortably into the high-quality web solutions we know work well.

    1 comment

    1. What I find really neat is how the article compares using ChatGPT to inputting a search query in Google. The way ChatGPT can provide the right info directly is pretty impressive and makes me wonder if traditional search engines might become less important.

      The article does bring up some valid points, though. It talks about how chatbots might not always be accurate because they can't always tell fact from fiction. The whole idea of "hallucination" in AI responses is a bit concerning, and it's a reminder that we shouldn't just blindly trust everything we get from them.

      Another thing the article mentions is that chatbots might not cover all topics. There are certain areas they can't handle, especially when it comes to sensitive or iffy stuff. That makes sense, and it shows that there could still be a need for regular search engines.

      I think the article's suggestion of AI-supported search is intriguing. Instead of completely replacing traditional search engines, AI could work alongside them to make search results better by understanding what we're really looking for.