The Simulacrum
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The Simulacrum

Is ChatGPT really a Google Killer?

After Sundar Pitchai [CEO of Google] announced a ‘Code Red’ post-ChatGPT, the echo chamber is ripe (again) on how ChatGPT will kill the Search Engine. This cannot be farther from the truth.

We need to understand the difference between a “Search Engine,” which is run by an AI to parse the web universe and surface the most relevant “facts,” and a “Search Interface” that presents these facts to you in a manner that is easily narratable and hence digestible.

The key here is to understand that Google’s search interface (Not the Search Engine) is built to mix the relevant results and sponsored content from advertisers. Google makes money only if you click on sponsored content.

Now, ChatGPT is a narrative engine. By itself, it cannot accumulate facts. It can make up answers (hallucinative narratives) when it cannot accurately produce facts.

The best way to understand ChatGPT is to imagine a human being who is a master narrator (Can narrate different facts in a personalized manner to different personas). By itself, ChatGPT does not have access to facts.

Fact is a statement or condition that is relevant and conditional to the query or a prompt to elicit the truth. For example, “where can I eat the best chimichangas in the Palo Alto area?” is a prompt or a query. The relevant fact for this prompt is subjective to what you consider the best chimichangas vs. what is voted by society as the best chimichangas in the Palo Alto area. Let’s call this a residual substrate of personal preference and societal preferences.

ChatGPT or the non-profit OpenAI does NOT own any substrate. What they own is this human-like narrator. Google owns the substrates (The zeitgeist of queries and click streams). Also, Yelp, Airbnb, Facebook, Slack, Reddit, Medium, etc., own these substrates.

As a search engine, Google can surface these facts in a search interface that looks archaic.

But, ChatGPT narrates these facts in a manner that the query promoter can readily appreciate, and HERE IN LIES THE RUB.

ChatGPT requires the substrate engines (Search Engine) to get access to facts even to narrate anything (So it will NEVER replace the search engine). Still, once it takes over the search interface, people will start directly clicking on the narration of ChatGPT ignoring sponsored content.

Death of Media Revenues. Hence the code red.

Google needs to figure out a User Experience that will combine the notions of the narrator (ala ChatGPT) and innovations on sprinkling sponsored media additives. This is a tall order. Of course, it can charge an API fee for its search engine, which the ChatGPT-like interface shall consume, but the power to display sponsored content shifts from Google to ChatGPT. This is not good for business.

Google has billions of well-engineered prompts (Search Queries) and ‘Reinforced Learning through Human Factors’ (Click streams). These are two of the most potent substrates to make a helpful narrator.

ChatGPT is useless without having a clever prompt to elicit a good narration. This is already a known parameter.

Essentially, narrator AIs are challenging the “Search Interface” and directly competing on the media dollars.

So, No, ChatGPT can never replace a Search Engine or Google.

It shall be interesting to see how Google can develop a new interface combining its power of “Fact Assimilation Engine,” ala Search Engine, along with its NarratorAI called PaLM, which is technically superior to GPT3.5.



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