Google demoed its latest advances in AI search at a live event in Paris on Wednesday — but the features pale in comparison to Microsoft’s announcement yesterday of the “new Bing,” which the company has demoed extensively to the press and offered limited public access to.
In perhaps the most interesting demo, Google showed off how it will use generative AI in the future to summarize information from the web. In the demo, the company showed a search for the question “what are the best constellations to look for while stargazing?” with an AI-generated response highlighting a few key options and how to spot them.
“New generative AI features will help us organize complex information and multiple viewpoints right in search results,” said Google SVP Prabhakar Raghavan. “With this you’ll be able to quickly understand the big picture and then go on to explore different angles.”
Raghavan referred to this sort of response as a “NORA” reply — standing for “no one right answer.” (A common criticism of AI-generated search responses is that they tend to pick a single answer as definitive.) He did not specify when this feature would be available.
The lack of information speaks to Google’s current difficulties in search. Although the company is a leader in AI and has been slowly weaving AI features into search for years, it’s yet to launch a direct competitor to the conversational ChatGPT. On Monday, it announced its rival service, Bard, but the system is currently only being tested in closed beta, with wider public availability promised sometime “in the coming weeks.”
At the event today, Google also gave a brief demo of Bard, asking the chatbot questions about the pros and cons of buying an electric car. You can see its sample answers below:
Microsoft, meanwhile, has been capitalizing on Google’s caution. Yesterday it announced new AI-assisted features for Bing and its Edge browser. These include a general purpose chatbot similar to ChatGPT as well as auto-summarizing and text-writing programs.