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Will ChatGPT sink Google?

The AI-powered chatbot tool is rewriting the world – but what happens in the future, and could there be competition with tech giants like Google?

ChatGPT, the OpenAI tool that uses generative artificial intelligence (AI) to turn text prompts into vast screeds of text that include everything from business plans to academic essays, has changed the world in the few months since its November 2022 release.

While many tech companies and their products claim to be disruptive, few have had the impact that ChatGPT has had in such a short space of time. As well as demolishing barriers and roadblocks for many use cases that have previously existed, the generative AI tools are also creating new industries and sectors, with many startups building their own businesses off the back of the technology.

“Ground-breaking new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot achievements based on large language models (such as ChatGPT) will ease developers’ cumbersome coding requirements by automating the writing/converting of scripting, particularly programming languages developers are unfamiliar with,” says GlobalData technology analyst Charlotte Dunlap. It’ll help spur on new app modernization efforts this year, Dunlap reckons – with massive ramifications for the tech world.

What is the future of ChatGPT?

But aside from its ripple effects on the broader tech world, there are questions about ChatGPT’s future closer to home. For one thing, the tool is currently in open beta, meaning people can use it for free – though its popularity has practically meant that ChatGPT is often offline for long stretches as users push it to its limit and past the breaking point.

But that seems like a short-term solution, with long-term plans likely to include a paid-for version that users would have to purchase in order to access it reliably. That would have big changes for many of its most casual users, but would be unlikely to discourage those hardcore adherents who are building businesses – or using it in their work processes in an integral way to automate tasks that previously they would have had to do as humans – from forking out the cash.

A paid-for version of ChatGPT puts the tool on a firmer footing for the future, which would likely please its potential courter, Microsoft, which is thinking of throwing $10 billion at the company in investment in exchange for integrating it into tools such as Microsoft Bing, the tech titan’s search engine.

Could competitors be around the corner?

Microsoft’s backing would be a major moment for ChatGPT, and vindication that it is far from a silly tool that will fizzle out but is instead a foundational technology that’s here to stay for the long run. It would also put ChatGPT into competition with Google.

Already, ChatGPT has been dubbed a “Google killer” because of the fact it can produce conversational, fully-formed text answers to user queries. That demolishes the last issue that Google has, which is users still need to parse large parts of the information they encounter through search results. ChatGPT gives them the answers in a clear format that they want – and quickly.

Of course, Google has one major advantage over ChatGPT at present. The latter’s knowledge is crystallized in amber, stuck in late 2021, when its training data was last updated. Google is constantly adapting its search results to the latest developments, meaning that it has supremacy in more timely queries, such as anything to do with news.

But it is still a major competitor. The support of Microsoft could be vital for ChatGPT, given that other big tech companies seem likely to be developing their own versions of generative AI tools that are equally powerful in the near future. While Google has reportedly said that it’s not developing its own version of a generative AI tool like ChatGPT because, as a large company, it can’t take the reputational risk that something goes wrong and the AI starts spewing hate in the same way OpenAI can, there could be others in the space who feel the potential reward is worth the risk.

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