ChatGPT Search tipped to launch next week — here's why Google should be worried

Image of smartphone with OpenAI ChatGPT loaded ready to use
(Image credit: Getty images)

OpenAI could be about to take on Google at its own game with the launch of a new search engine based on ChatGPT technology.

Google has dominated the search market for more than two decades, accounting for 90% of all global searches but will its caution over generative AI be its downfall? This caution could leave space for a new player that mixes the understanding of AI with the breadth of data found online.

Very little is known about the rumored search engine beyond the fact it will be based on asking questions and interacting with an AI model using natural language. This is similar to the way Perplexity and Google Gemini work — bringing live data to AI.

The rumors stem from the registration of Reports suggest OpenAI is planning a big announcement on May 9 and that could well be the new search engine — although OpenAI can be even more tight-lipped than Apple on new products.

Why is OpenAI looking at search?

A Google Search Generation Experiment results page with citations added as in-line links

(Image credit: 9To5Google)

There is some live search functionality built into ChatGPT through its partnership with Microsoft Bing but its always been more of an “add-on” rather than a deep integration and as a result this has always been somewhat spotty and unreliable.

The intersection of LLMs plus search I don’t think anyone has cracked the code on yet. I would love to go and do that, I think it would be cool.

Sam Altman

During an interview with Lex Fridman last month, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman suggested that ChatGPT could be the future of search, with a deep integration between LLM and search.

He said: "If we can build a better search engine than Google then we should," but added it would understate what AI can actually be. "Google shows you 13 ads and ten blue links, which is one way to find information, but the thing that is exciting to me is that maybe there is a much better way to help people find and act on information."

“Maybe it is interesting to say ‘How do we help you find the information you need, how do we help create that in some cases or point you to it in others’,” Altman added.

He said integrating search into ChatGPT is an example of a cool thing to do. “The intersection of LLMs plus search I don’t think anyone has cracked the code on yet. I would love to go and do that, I think it would be cool.”

How might an OpenAI search engine work?

There are a few ways OpenAI could go with search. Perplexity takes a chatbot approach, allowing users to ask questions and then display AI-generated plus search result data.

Google Gemini is more of a pure chat result, offering up analysis from the AI and providing links to sources for that information, as well as a Google search link for the same terms. Google also has the Search Generative Experience experiment that creates AI-summarized results.

Rumors I’ve seen suggest OpenAI’s approach will be closer to that of Google Gemini, built into ChatGPT but with more live data. For example, a user could ask a question about the top song on the billboard chart at this moment and it will just show the result without a lag or caching.

What are the benefits of search to AI?

ChatGPT and Google Search

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

One of the biggest downfalls of large language models is the cut-off date for information. This is tied to when the training process finished and no new information could be added.

There are a few ways to tackle this problem including fine-tuning and expanding the context window so users can input their own datasets — but the best is live web access.

Google, Bing and Perplexity have their own spiders scouring the web constantly and updating databases on new results and pages. Some perform better than others.

This helps overall AI performance as this data can be fed back into the chatbot, allowing it to retrieve information in real-time, and then produce analysis based on its training data combined with the search results. But to work properly it requires deep integration.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?