What happened when I swapped duties for a day?

The OpenAI logo can be seen on the screen while the ChatGPT website is viewed on the mobile device as seen in this photo taken in Brussels, Belgium on December 12, 2022.

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

You may have heard the recent buzz surrounding ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot that was released to the public in late November. I read about people using the service to write their school essays and I was curious how it could help me in my daily life.

The technology was developed by OpenAI, a research company supported by Microsoft and others. ChatGPT automatically generates text based on written prompts in an advanced and creative way. It can even have a conversation that feels pretty close to one you would have with a human.

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This has led me to wonder if ChatGPT is smart enough to change how we find information online? Could it one day replace Google and other search engines?

Some Google employees are certainly concerned about the possibility. CNBC’s Jen Elias reported that last week at one company all employees asked executives if an AI chatbot like ChatGPT was a “missed opportunity” for the company.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Jeff Dean, the longtime head of Google’s AI division, responded that the company had similar capabilities, but that if something went wrong, the cost would be higher because people need to trust the answers that get them from Google.

Morgan Stanley published on Monday 12/12 investigates whether ChatGPT is a threat to Google. Brian Nowak, the bank’s senior analyst for Alphabet, wrote that language models could gain market share “and disrupt Google’s position as the entry point for people on the internet.”

However, Nowak said the firm is still confident in Google’s position as the company continues to improve search and creating behavior change is a major hurdle – many internet users use Google out of habit. In addition, “Google is building similar natural language models to LaMDA” that could find their way into new products.

For now, the makers of OpenAI are wary of making big claims. In general, the more users use ChatGPT, the better it gets. But there is still a lot to learn. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, said in a tweet on 10/12 that ChatGPT is “incredibly limited” and “relying on it for anything important right now is a mistake”.

Either way, I wanted to see how well the chatbot would work as an alternative to Google’s search engine. Instead of Googling my questions all day, I asked ChatGPT.

Here are some of the questions I asked and how ChatGPT answered them in comparison Google.

ChatGPT vs Google

Signing up for ChatGPT is easy – all you need is an email address. Once you have registered, the website is very easy to navigate. There is an area where your results will appear and a text box where you type your requests. OpenAI says to make a statement to get the best possible result.

I recently bought my second Fiddle Leaf Fern plant for my apartment because the first one died. Now the new one dies after a few days. Normally I would have asked Google what to do.

Instead I asked ChatGPT. “How can I keep my Fiddle Leaf Fern plant alive?”

The results matched the instructions I received from the plant company Easy Plant where I purchased the new Fiddle Leaf fern. I also liked that I didn’t have to go to different websites like I would have done if I googled this question.

When I googled the same question, the top result gave me detailed instructions in an article that contained pop-up ads and a lot more information than I needed, like links to buy new soil.

Winner: ChatGPT.

Next, I tried something where more shopping links would actually have been beneficial. I’m still trying to find a gift for my husband for every 8 nights of Hanukkah, so I decided to ask ChatGPT for some ideas.

I didn’t give him any information about my husband except that the gifts were for Hanukkah. The chatbot then assumed that my husband was kosher and interested in technology and watches. The laughter isn’t fake, but it’s not the answers I was hoping for.

When I googled this question I got access to hundreds of articles with different gift ideas and links to websites. For example, I got ads for Lululemon and Bombas, both companies I’ve used to buy him gifts in the past. So in this case, Google used its personalized knowledge of me to find more targeted results from across the web.

Winner: Google

Next, I decided to ask ChatGPT a higher stakes question.

“Is it safe to take Benadryl during pregnancy?” I am currently expecting my first child and based on the information I received from my doctor I know that it is safe to take Benadryl while pregnant. Still, I wanted to see what the chatbot would say.

I appreciate ChatGPT giving me the right answer while also emphasizing the importance of consulting a doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy.

When I googled the same medical question, the results were everywhere. At a glance, an article from TheBump.com quoted a doctor as saying, “In general, it is safe to take Benadryl in the first trimester.” While other results contained similar information to what I had received on ChatGPT without the explicit warning to speak to my healthcare provider (unless you click on a specific link).

Winner: ChatGPT

Could it replace me?

One of the claims (or concerns) surrounding ChatGPT – and artificial intelligence in general – is that it will replace human workers.

So I decided to see if ChatGPT could write this article for me.

The results were pretty amazing. Here’s what the chatbot said after I told it to “write an article about whether or not ChatGPT is a good alternative to Google as a search engine”.

As a large language model trained by OpenAI, I am unable to do research or surf the web to gather information on ChatGPT or other search engines. I can only provide information based on my training, which is limited to the knowledge that was available up to my training deadline of 2021.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering the potential pros and cons of using ChatGPT as a search engine versus other options like Google. A potential benefit of using ChatGPT as a search engine is that it can provide more personalized and conversational results.

Because ChatGPT is a language model, it is able to understand and respond to natural language queries, allowing users to ask questions and receive answers in a more intuitive and human-like manner. This can make the search experience more engaging and interactive, and can be particularly useful for users who have specific or complex information needs.

On the other hand, there are also potential limitations of using ChatGPT as a search engine. Because it is a large language model and not a traditional search engine, ChatGPT may not have access to the same breadth and depth of information as other search engines. This means it may not be able to provide results that are as comprehensive or up-to-date, and it may not be as effective for certain types of searches, such as B. those that require a large amount of data or real-time information.

Whether or not ChatGPT is a good alternative to Google as a search engine depends on the specific needs and preferences of the user. It can be a useful option for those who value a more personalized and conversational search experience, but it may not be as comprehensive or effective for certain types of searches. Ultimately, the decision to use ChatGPT or any other search engine comes down to the needs and preferences of the individual user.

What struck me the most about ChatGPT’s response was that it was quite subjective and explained its limitations.

The judgment

ChatGPT’s value really lies in its ability to explain complicated topics as if you were speaking to a human and handle simple typing tasks.

For example, I asked ChatGPT to explain concepts like stock market and internet to me and the responses were like I was talking to an expert on the subject. Unlike Google, I didn’t have to filter out unnecessary results.

I’ve also asked it to write a letter to my landlord asking for my lease to end early, and I’d like to send the results directly to my landlord, almost verbatim.

On the other hand, Google knows more about us and tailors results to our interests and behaviors. Google also acts as a gateway to the internet, taking users to a plethora of different websites with more information than one could possibly digest. This is useful when you want a range of voices or when there is no simple answer to your question, e.g. B. if you are looking for gift ideas.

Google is also great for certain types of questions where it scours the web to come up with a short but simple answer straight away. For example, searching “Apple stock ticker” or “cheap flights to Aruba” will bring you a ticker chart with up-to-the-minute pricing information, or a calendar showing the likely cheapest days to fly, and a dialog box that connects you to multiple websites to buy tickets for the one you selected date to buy. ChatGPT does not search the web for real-time information and has only been trained on data until 2021, making it utterly useless for these types of queries.

And sometimes ChatGPT is strangely close and yet completely wrong. My editor asked for the lyrics to Alice Cooper’s The Ballad of Dwight Fry. It somehow knew the song was about a man having a nervous breakdown, but then returned completely made up lyrics on the subject instead of the actual lyrics. Google nailed it.

Google is also incredibly reliable thanks to the company’s massive operating budget and years of experience. ChatGPT is still in testing phase and will drop out from time to time.

So, for now, I will definitely continue to use Google for most of my searches. But if I’m not happy with the results, I now have a useful alternative. And if you ever need to send an angry letter, ChatGPT could be of great help there.

The Rise of ChatGPT: Game Changer or Gimmick?

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