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Business News/ Ai / Search quality crisis: AI chatbots challenge Google and Bing amid user dissatisfaction, suggested German research
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Search quality crisis: AI chatbots challenge Google and Bing amid user dissatisfaction, suggested German research

Concerns about declining search engine quality from Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo have led to debates. German researchers highlight issues with sponsored links and questionable SEO. Generative AI chatbots like Gemini and Microsoft's Copilot offer an alternative, using conversational queries.

For representation purposes only (AP)Premium
For representation purposes only (AP)

In recent months, concerns about the declining quality of search engine results from Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo have sparked a debate on the effectiveness of these platforms. German researchers have suggested that the influx of sponsored or spammy links, combined with questionable search engine optimization techniques, is diluting the authenticity of search results.

Google, a long-standing leader in the search engine industry, asserts that its results are of superior quality compared to rivals, backed by measurements from third-party assessments. However, a growing number of users seem to share the sentiment that Google searches are losing their efficacy.

The rise of generative AI chatbots, powered by artificial intelligence, presents an alternative way for users to seek information. Google, for example, introduced its AI chatbot assistant, initially known as Bard, which has now been replaced by a similar service called Gemini. Gemini, accessible on desktop or mobile browsers, recently launched in the U.S. and is expanding globally, excluding Britain, Switzerland, and Europe.

Microsoft's Bing search engine also offers generative AI searches through its Copilot feature, powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT technology. Several startup AI search sites, such as Perplexity, HuggingChat, You.com, Komo, Andi, Phind, Exa, and AskAI, have entered the scene, providing users with additional options.

These AI search tools promise to revolutionize the search experience by replacing traditional keyword searches with conversational queries. Users are encouraged to ask questions in natural language, fostering a more intuitive and interactive search process.

While many of these services offer free versions, premium options with enhanced AI capabilities and additional features are often available for a fee. For instance, Gemini users can access its most capable model, Ultra 1.0, for $20.

The results from AI chatbots differ from traditional search engines. Instead of presenting a list of links, AI chatbots generate readable summaries of information, sometimes including key links as footnotes. The quality of answers varies across platforms, making it essential for users to explore multiple sources and cross-reference information.

In testing, AI chatbots demonstrated their strength in providing detailed and coherent answers to obscure or specific queries. However, concerns about accuracy and reliability persist. The nature of generative AI chatbots raises questions about the accuracy of their responses, with some platforms explicitly warning users about potential inaccuracies or false information.

These AI systems operate by scanning vast pools of information from the web, using large language models and algorithms to generate responses. However, not all platforms disclose the details of their training models or the algorithms used, leaving users in the dark about the reliability of the information provided.

For example, Komo insisted that Canada's population in 1991 was around 1 million people, citing a Wikipedia page. Despite a follow-up query, Komo maintained this incorrect figure until it was revealed that the data came from a table specifically detailing the country's indigenous population.

As users explore the possibilities offered by AI search tools, the advice remains to compare results from multiple platforms, double-check sources, and approach generated content with a critical eye. While these chatbots bring innovation to the search experience, their accuracy and reliability issues underscore the need for continued refinement and user scrutiny. The future of search may indeed be evolving, but the path forward requires careful consideration of the trade-offs between convenience and accuracy.

(With inputs from AP)

 

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Published: 19 Feb 2024, 11:43 AM IST
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