Playing rock 'em sock 'em (chat)bots

Leafs vs. Habs. Pepsi vs. Coke. Dudes who wear shorts year-round vs. Canadian winters. Then, there’s Google vs. Microsoft. And a new front has opened up in their ongoing war. 

Driving the news: One day after Microsoft officially announced it’s bringing the tech behind AI chatbot ChapGPT to Bing, Google unveiled a raft of new and expanded AI-powered search features and said that Bard, its ChatGPT competitor, will launch in the coming weeks. 

  • Google already uses AI in lots of stuff, from autocomplete in Gmail to data collection for Maps. But now, it’s highlighting AI more than ever, trumpeting its use in new tools like the nifty Immersive View for Maps and the expanded multisearch feature. 

Why it’s happening: Google holds ~90% of the market share for search, but it’s clearly taking Microsoft’s partnership with ChapGPT-maker OpenAI seriously. Bing, which has been the butt of jokes by everyone from politicians to talk show hosts, might now be a real threat.  

  • But Microsoft isn’t the only concern, as youths increasingly use TikTok and Instagram to search for things, preferring suggestions from other AI-powered algorithms.  

Why it matters: Remember when Google said it didn’t want to jump into the AI fray so quickly, citing “reputational risk”? Well, that was before Microsoft sparked an AI arms race. The people have spoken, and they want chatbots, so that’s exactly what they’re gonna get.

Yes, but: Maybe Google should have heeded its own words. Alphabet shares fell 7.44% yesterday after Bard underwhelmed investors and spat out incorrect info in a promo video.