ChatGPT: Should Google Watch Its Back?

'Tosin Adeoti
3 min readDec 6, 2022

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ChatGPT: Should Google Watch Its Back?

You may have heard of ChatGPT — that Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot that uses natural language processing to understand and respond to text. ChatGPT can answer questions and explain concepts. I read a piece in the UK Guardian yesterday where a journalism professor asked the AI to handle one of the assignments he gives his students: writing a letter to a relative giving advice regarding online security and privacy. The tutor was stunned when the AI responded. To which he admitted that, were it an answer from a student, he would have given a generous score.

Released less than a week ago, ChatGPT is considered the most advanced, user-friendly chatbot to enter the public domain. ChatGPT, as over 1 million users have discovered, responds to difficult user commands with amazingly intelligent, detailed, and conversational language. It can create lines of code, a college-level essay, responses in the voice of a pirate, and a piano composition in the style of Mozart. Just search “ChatGPT” on Twitter to see more amazing things it can do, and get ready to be amazed.

Free to use by the public and without ads, the signups have been so overwhelming that OpenAI, the parent company, has halted registrations. What is astonishing about this tool is that it fulfills many of Google’s functions — and often outperforms the Alphabet company. Whereas Google simply provides you with the links and tools you need to conduct research, ChatGPT can answer complex inquiries, solve complex problems, and chat in a human-like manner. Just before I wrote this piece, I saw ChatGPT asked to list out 15 important inventions, who made them, what year, and in what country. The tool listed them exactly as had been requested in a split second. Google was asked the same question, and, as you may have guessed, what was returned was a string of lists the user would have to sort out himself.

Hence the question: How much of a danger could the ChatGPT technology pose to Google? The consequences are substantial, given that Alphabet made $149 billion in income last year from Google Search and other web-based Google products. Launched in 2015 with $1 billion in funding from Silicon Valley luminaries, including Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, and later by Microsoft in 2019, the idea of a new startup supplanting a search engine giant like Google may not be a crazy idea.

Yet Google did not become dominant by being complacent. It is heavily invested in DeepMind, an AI that comprises large language models that underpin chatbots. If DeepMind develops a worthy competitor, the battle over which AI provides the best answer to the user may not be over. But even in its current state, ChapGPT itself is not so sure of replacing Google. When the Independent website asked ChatGPT whether it could replace Google, the bot replied, in part: “It is unlikely that a single search engine, such as ChatGPT, could completely replace Google.” On the other hand, it correctly said that advanced language models provide distinct capabilities and a distinct user experience when compared to Google. “Overall, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way we seek information online,” the chatbot concluded.

To that I say, welcome to a new era of seeking information online. If I were you, I would not only be asking in what ways this tool may be useful; I would also be asking what jobs this new tool renders redundant.

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