In the age of highly developed artificial intelligence technology, traditional search engines based on text keyword matching have become insufficient to meet the needs of users. This is where the emergence of ChatGPT, a new generation of search engines, comes into play.
Traditional search engines use text keyword matching technology. In this kind of system, the search engine pre-indexes all web pages on the internet. When a user inputs a search term, the search engine ranks the relevance of the user’s search term to the information in the index and produces a list of related web pages as search results. However, this approach has a clear problem: users need knowledge, not a list of web pages. In fact, when using search engines, people often only browse the top few search results, rather than a vast list.
In contrast, ChatGPT-based new generation search engines are more in line with people’s expectations of a “search engine.” When a user inputs a search term, the new generation search engine aggregates the information from several indexed web pages, processes it with pre-existing knowledge that is stored within the model, such as common sense, and external knowledge bases such as knowledge maps, and creates a complete article.
There are several characteristics that distinguish ChatGPT-based new generation search engines from traditional search engines. Firstly, ChatGPT has the ability to aggregate knowledge. It can combine scattered knowledge from multiple web pages into a complete article. Secondly, ChatGPT introduces the ability to incorporate prior knowledge. It can use the vast amount of knowledge stored in its model, along with external knowledge bases such as knowledge maps, to process the content of an article. ChatGPT can also use its incredible language ability to change the style of an article, such as explaining specialised knowledge to the general public or introducing quantum communication technology in child-friendly language. Thirdly, ChatGPT has the ability to answer follow-up questions. Traditional search engines can only search once, while users can ask ChatGPT follow-up questions and have it supplement its answers.
These abilities of ChatGPT-based new generation search engines have the potential to change the future of society in several ways. Firstly, they can help users find the correct information in the right place. For example, if someone wants to learn about English literature, they may not know where to start, but ChatGPT’s answer can serve as a good starting point. Secondly, new generation search engines can avoid the homogenisation of search results. To understand it, it is necessary to know the concepts of first-order and second-order questions. A first-order question is the question itself, while a second-order question is why the user is asking the question. Based on this, ChatGPT can provide results from a wider perspective. For example, if a user asks about the usage of a computer tool, in addition to answering the question, ChatGPT can determine that the user needs to use the tool to complete a certain task and recommend a more suitable tool.
It is also important to note that ChatGPT is not without its own potential issues. One concern is the potential for biased or incorrect information to be included in the generated articles. As ChatGPT relies on a pre-trained model with a vast amount of knowledge, it is possible for the model to perpetuate harmful stereotypes or incorrect information. Nevertheless, traditional search engines also create false information. Traditional search engines only shift the responsibility of distinguishing the truth or falsehood of information to the user. In fact, traditional search engines often rely on algorithms that can be biased or influenced by the biases of those who create them. This is particularly true when it comes to ranking results, as the algorithms may prioritise certain sources over others based on various factors.
Contrary to popular belief, traditional search engines may actually be more dangerous in the spread of false information compared to ChatGPT-based next generation search engines. This is due to the fact that people tend to be more inclined to believe that search results are direct quotations from the original text. For example, a Google search for ‘coke and mentos inside stomach’ yields a first result that states, in bold letters, ‘Your stomach can explode from drinking Coke and eating Mentos together’. This is a basic factual error. Upon clicking on the link and accessing the page, one can see that there is a follow-up statement beneath the aforementioned sentence that reads ‘True or False? False’. Traditional search engines are incapable of understanding that this is a question and provide no further clarification, while it is not an issue for ChatGPT-based new generation search engines, as natural language processing is a fundamental inherent capability.
To address the issue of biases and incorrect information, it is important for both traditional search engines and ChatGPT to actively work to mitigate any biases that may exist. Additionally, it is crucial for users to fact-check and critically evaluate the information they find, whether it comes from a traditional search engine or ChatGPT.
Another potential issue with ChatGPT is the possibility for the misuse of the technology. As ChatGPT is able to generate articles and responses that are indistinguishable from those written by humans, there is a risk that misinformation or propaganda may be more easily fabricated. However, this is not a problem unique to ChatGPT, as traditional search engines have also been used for these purposes in the past. It is important for both traditional search engines and ChatGPT to have safeguards in place to prevent the spread of false or harmful information.
Despite these potential issues, the benefits of ChatGPT and other advanced search engines far outweigh the potential risks. By providing a more personalised and in-depth search experience, these new generation search engines have the potential to revolutionise the way we access and consume information. As the technology continues to advance, it is likely that ChatGPT and similar technologies will become even more integral to our daily lives. It is important for both the developers and users of these technologies to be aware of the potential issues and to take steps to address them, while also embracing the vast potential that these technologies offer.