Here's something you don't see everyday: Microsoft is serving up a snazzy web search tool. And Google, whose search page has barely changed in 24 years, is also racing to launch a just-as-cool revamped tool in the next few weeks. It seems that officially, the new chat-engine wars are underway, with Microsoft on Tuesday announcing its long-awaited integration of OpenAI's ChatGPT bot into Bing and calling it a "copilot for the web." Google published a blog post hours earlier about its own chatbot for search, called Bard. For Google in particular, it could be the riskiest strategic move it has made in years, a metaphorical leap off the couch that the company has been relaxing on for far too long.
This scramble by two typically slow-moving tech giants - whose endgame represents nothing less than owning the next era of online search - will be messy and fraught with risk. Both companies are using AI systems that have been trained on billions of words on the public internet, but which can also give incorrect and even biased information. Google also risks provoking a backlash from the web publishers that are critical to its business.