A search engine researcher explains the promise and peril of letting ChatGPT and its cousins search the web for you.
By Chirag Shah, Published March 19, 2023
The prominent model of information access and retrieval before search engines became the norm – librarians and subject or search experts providing relevant information – was interactive, personalized, transparent and authoritative. Search engines are the primary way most people access information today, but entering a few keywords and getting a list of results ranked by some unknown function is not ideal.
A new generation of artificial intelligence-based information access systems, which includes Microsoft’s Bing/ChatGPT, Google/Bard and Meta/LLaMA, is upending the traditional search engine mode of search input and output. These systems are able to take full sentences and even paragraphs as input and generate personalized natural language responses.
At first glance, this might seem like the best of both worlds: personable and custom answers combined with the breadth and depth of knowledge on the internet. But as a researcher who studies the search and recommendation systems, I believe the picture is mixed at best.