Google Will Use Generative AI In Search

Apr 10, 2023 - 7:31 am 5 by
Filed Under Google

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The Wall Street Journal has an interview with Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, on AI, the future of search and all this Bard and AI stuff. In short how AI might impact the future of search.

Glenn Gabe summed up much of the interview in several tweets, so I figured I would embed those. But in short:

  • The search results interface can vastly change
  • It can "upend the traditional link-based experience that has been the norm for more than two decades."
  • LLMs will be "thoughtfully integrating" into search
  • It may become more commercial with ads and other ways to monetize

Here are Glenn's tweets:

Here are parts of the interview talking specifically about search:

WSJ: There has been a lot of prognostication around how search might change because of large language models [LLMs] and even the rise of chat-based interfaces. Do you see link-based search as the dominant way people access information on the internet a decade from now?

Mr. Pichai: I think the experience will evolve substantively over the next decade. We have to meet users in terms of what they are looking for. It’s always tough to predict all the ways in which the future manifestations of this will play out, but I think it’s important to understand what users are trying to accomplish and work back from that at any given moment.

WSJ: What are you hearing from your users about what they want from Google?

Mr. Pichai: Through recent developments, we can now think about serving them in a much broader way. Even, for example, through Bard we are now able to handle a lot of creative and collaborative use cases, so those are all exciting new directions for search as well. The problem space, the opportunity space, if anything is bigger than before, and so that excites us.

WSJ: What role do you think AI chatbots in particular will play in search? You’ve talked about them as a companion, but do you think people will be retrieving information through these AI chatbot-based interfaces?

Mr. Pichai: Both. I think we’ve been using LLMs to improve search quality and the search experience, but I think we will bring natively the modern LLM capabilities in search. We are working to make sure it works well for users—they have a high bar, and we want to meet that bar. But yes, will people be able to ask questions to Google and engage with LLMs in the context of search? Absolutely.

WSJ: Do you see it evolving into sort of a conversation?

Mr. Pichai: We are testing a variety of approaches so I don’t want to comment on the future iterations of it yet, but yes at a high level people come to Google to ask follow-up questions. We’ll be able to give them more powerful tools to be able to do that.

WSJ: When you say the opportunity space is expanding, what do you mean exactly?

Mr. Pichai: There are newer types of queries which you can ask search, which you may not have thought about asking before. Would you have considered asking Google, help me write a poem? I’m sure we saw queries like that, but maybe in some of those things now we can do a much better job than what we have done before. There are queries in the past where the concept of a single right answer doesn’t make much sense. I think LLMs do great in those scenarios.

WSJ: What kind of commercial potential do you see for LLMs and LLM search?

Mr. Pichai: It’s tough to carve it out that way. You may be interested in ideas for how to celebrate a birthday, and at some point aspects of it become more commercial. We don’t come into it with the view of, we want to give you this commercial journey. It’s important to get the order right.

WSJ: With what you’ve released so far with Bard, Google has been adamant that it isn’t a search product. Why not?

Mr. Pichai: We’ve put it as a companion to Google search. There are times if you want to search, we make it convenient for you to search. But over time, users will use these products, and we’re learning from it.

WSJ: What was behind the decision to hook up Bard to the web?

Mr. Pichai: We are a company which grew up on the internet. Where there are elements of factuality by grounding it in search, I think that helps improve the experience, so I think it’s been a natural direction for us.

WSJ: Do you see any tension that Bard is this box that is hooked up to the internet that provides you answers and Google is this box that is hooked up to the internet that provides you answers?

Mr. Pichai: In the early days, I don’t see it as a tension. I use both products. Would there be queries which are overlapping? Absolutely. There are things we can do in Bard which may be difficult to do in search, or vice versa. I don’t view this as a constraint. I view this as a great opportunity to innovate.

WSJ: What does Google search look like in 10 years? Does it look more like the original Google—the 10 blue links—or does it look more like Bard?

Mr. Pichai: It may look like neither, or it will have elements of all that. I think we’ll be able to help users in much deeper ways. If I take a 10-year outlook, this will all be more ambiently available to users in radically different ways than we use them today. I think you’ll be able to do all of this in a much more personalized way, which means by nature we’ll be able to impact users in a deeper, meaningful way.

Forum discussion at Twitter and WebmasterWorld.


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