Generative AI Drives Internet Search Revolution

Ever jumped on Google to find an answer to a quick question and found yourself still browsing half an hour later? Your experience isn’t unique. Designed to answer users’ questions and deliver valuable information, Google Search has become a massive time sink for many people. For years, people have accepted this as an inevitability. This is changing fast now with the arrival of generative AI technologies. In this article, we take a look at the massive Internet Search Revolution unfolding before our eyes.

Frustrating World of 2023 Google Search

It’s Monday morning, and you need to get some bit of info for your report asap. You jump on the most popular webpage on the planet – the Google Search homepage – enter your query, and get showered with countless links, with paid ones at the top, purporting to deliver you the answer you are looking for. You start visiting those links, one by one, occasionally running into the annoying paywalls and registration walls, before you find an article that seems to be exactly what you are looking for.

Ten minutes later, you realise that the article, which had a promising title and assured you in the introduction that it would provide the answer to your question, is an endless regurgitation of generalities. Somewhere near the end of the wall of text you’ve just sunk ten minutes of your time into is the answer you were looking for. Unfortunately, the “answer” is simply that dreaded “it depends” type of conclusion. Frustrated, you hit the browser’s back button to return to Google’s search results page.

You click on the second link and start realising that your “journey” is only beginning. If lucky, half an hour later, you find the required answer, insightful and informative, on an unassuming webpage or in a major publication. If not that lucky, you are still looking when your Monday meeting time arrives. Having given up the hope to quickly add that bit of information to your report, you rush to the meeting, muttering a few choice words at Google.

This kind of experience with Google Search, or indeed with any reasonably popular search engine, has become ubiquitous. The internet search undertaking using popular search engines has grown into an enormous time sink for anything other than the most trivial queries. Presented with countless links in the search results, users receive very little indication of which page contains the best answer to their question.

Google’s search ranking algorithms, which favour so-called “long content”, mercilessly push down webpages with succinct, short, and straight-to-the-point answers. This is one of the reasons why a potential “Wikipedia with short answers” would never feature among the top links in Google Search. As a result, users looking for even relatively uncomplicated answers now see webpages with massive walls of text as the top search results.

Coupled with Google’s decision in 2017 to stop punishing websites with paywalls in the search rankings, the nightmare scenario for a typical user turning to Google has arrived.

Here is the plot twist – the time-consuming search experience of Google’s 4-billion user base is by design rather than due to the company’s inability to provide a “flawless user experience”. The bulk of Google’s revenue comes from users spending more time on its homepage and clicking on the ads. Individual websites also try to rank higher in Google to draw visitors to their websites and make them lost in the web of text – the more a user spends on the website, the higher the chance of them clicking on the “right”, i.e., sales, buttons.

Arrival of ChatGPT – Search Redefined

Before the arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, internet users had resigned to the idea that searching on Google for anything more sophisticated than the current time or temperature in their locality took a considerable amount of time.

ChatGPT is now redefining the efficiency of search. To be precise, generative AI-based chat assistants, of which ChatGPT is the most popular, are redefining internet search. Instead of trawling through countless links of maybe and possibly useful info, users can now interact with the AI chat assistants and get precise responses to their queries quickly and efficiently.

Until very recently, ChatGPT was unable to provide up-to-date information, with its knowledge cut-off fixed at September 2021. Many other AI chat assistants still feature that limitation. Due to the critical limitation, using ChatGPT or similar AI assistants could only serve as a starting point for your search. Generative AI chat tools could help users research and find fairly complex information within seconds or mere minutes. This information could then be supplemented via Google Search to verify and refine it.

In other words, ChatGPT and most similar AI tools weren’t and still aren’t (yet) a complete replacement for Google search. Rather, they are being used in tandem with search engines like Google. This combined use of AI chat tools and internet search has already made finding relevant information online a much quicker process.

Next Stage - Moving Beyond AI Assistants Frozen in Time

The use of ChatGPT has revolutionised search. However, things on this front are moving fast. New generative AI chat assistants are arriving now that address the major deficiencies of the earlier models – the lack of up-to-date information and the models’ loose attitude toward factuality. OpenAI announced in late September that ChatGPT would have the ability to access the internet and source up-to-date information.

Among the first and rare AI chat assistants on the market with the ability to access up-to-date information is also PUMPChat, a finance-specific generative AI chat advisor that is part of the PUMP 2.0 social media analytics platform. PUMPChat verifies the factuality of its output against a regularly updated database of social media content.

Chat tools like the updated ChatGPT and PUMPChat, with their ability to deliver up-to-date information, and in the case of PUMPChat, with the ability to verify the factuality of output, are going to further drive search users away from reliance on Google.

Right now, a typical search might be an equal partnership between Google and an AI chat tool. The new breed of generative AI chat assistants is likely to tilt the whole search experience towards the chat tools and away from Google. Less time spent finding the information – what not to like about it? The Internet Search Revolution has arrived and is an ongoing development!