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[Weekender] Humanlike AI chatbot ChatGPT takes world by storm

Race to advance AI-powered search engines heats up as Microsoft bets big on ChatGPT to upgrade Bing

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : Feb. 4, 2023 - 16:00

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Artificial intelligence has become a part of our lives, sparking innovation around every corner. After Google DeepMind's AlphaGo surprised the world by winning a historic match against Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-dol in 2016, the ability of a new humanlike chatbot has recently opened people’s eyes to how far AI has progressed.

California-based startup OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public in November last year and gained over 1 million users within a week. The AI-powered chatbot is already being hailed as a game changer for various industries with its ability to learn and adapt quickly to new information as it was designed to generate responses in a conversational style.

Conversational AI chatbot

ChatGPT is the latest evolution of the GPT -- or the Generative Pre-Trained Transformer -- a family of text-generating AIs. The AI chatbot was trained with a wide range of knowledge that it can apply to other domains like how a human learns. It uses natural language processing and deep learning algorithms to understand and respond to user queries naturally.

ChatGPT generates responses to users’ queries in a snap. From answering questions to solving a range of problems and writing lyrics, poems and novels, the chatbot's speed and breadth of its responses are impressive. It rejects inappropriate queries and can admit its mistakes.

When a Korea Herald reporter asked ChatGPT to write a poem about winter in English, it came back with one in about 23 seconds. After complimenting the work, the chatbot expressed appreciation for the feedback and shared more of its "thoughts" about poetry. Grammatical and syntax errors were rare, and metaphor and rhyming skills were better than expected.

On the subjects of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test or geography, the reporter was given copious amounts of information and it was possible to carry on the conversation in one chat without having to repeat the subject word. Once in a while, there were pauses in between answers while it took longer to “grapple with” responses.

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Microsoft betting big

Leveraging internet users’ high dependency on search engines, Microsoft looks to expand the use of ChatGPT in its products, including the design app Microsoft Designer and search app Bing. Although the software maker has not yet disclosed the financial terms of its partnership with OpenAI, it recently announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment in the startup.

Unlike traditional search engines such as Google and Naver providing suggested answers to questions with links to websites, they think are relevant, the ChatGPT-powered search engine could generate answers that far surpass what other search engines are doing, Microsoft said. It is hopeful that integrating AI into Bing will help it catch up to the world’s most powerful tech giant.

Google has also renewed its efforts toward AI development after ChatGPT's release prompted it to declare a “code red." The tech giant aims to create another AI chatbot, in addition to its AI chatbot LaMDA, and reveal more AI-based products at its annual developer conference scheduled for May.

The debate continues over whether the sophisticated AI chatbot, in addition to Bing, could threaten Google's primacy in search for the first time in 20 years. As of December, Google accounted for nearly 84 percent of the global search market, while Bing had a share of around 9 percent, according to Statista.

Most experts said Google’s competitive advantage will likely allow it to uphold its dominant position, and pointed out that ChatGPT’s biggest downside is its unknown sourcing. The AI chatbot generates plain text with no reference to the actual websites, that may give incorrect information to users.

“The cutting-edge chatbot got smarter for sure. But since Bing does not have enough data to provide information to users, integrating the chat functionality into Bing won’t help it stand out from Google. If you are a smart user, you’ll use both ChatGPT and Google separately,” Lee Kyoung-jun, a social network science professor at Kyung Hee University, told The Korea Herald.

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Multilingual chatbot, not Korean specialist

ChatGPT has been trained on a wide variety of text data in multiple languages, but the AI chatbot-powered Bing search engine may not be the most reliable tool for many non-English speaking users whose main search sites have been other platforms, according to experts and industry players here.

English is the most common language that ChatGPT was trained in. The chatbot’s performance depends on the quality and amount of data it was trained on for a specific language, including feedback it received from developers and users. Since it was mainly trained in English, the AI chatbot is likely to be biased toward the cultural values of English-speaking users, they said.

Local tech giants are delving deeper into AI by training their hyperscale models to specialize in the Korean language. They hope to use their AI technology to connect to local users on a deeper level. By integrating advanced technology into people’s daily lives, companies are making efforts to preemptively advance their AI tools rather than responding to ChatGPT.

Naver, the reigning search engine in Korea, introduced its latest AI tool dubbed Hyper Clova in May last year. It was not only the local industry’s most advanced model but also the first hyperscale AI trained in the Korean language, the officials said.

“We’re not threatened by a new wave of chatbots like ChatGPT because Hyper Clova’s direction is different,” a Naver official said. “Our AI model is more suitable for Korean culture and language. We believe that Hyper Clova performs much better than other English-based hyperscale AI models when it comes to having daily conversations with users in Korean.”

Korea’s second-largest wireless carrier, KT, also looks to commercialize its AI model Mideum as early as the first half of this year. It plans to use its internally developed hyperscale AI as a tool for industrial innovation. In addition to multilingual operations, the company expected the model to be able to "sympathize" with people, a KT official explained to The Korea Herald.

Professor Lee further said, “The AI models like Hyper Clova have a greater level of competitiveness in both Korean language and culture than ChatGPT. ... Korean firms' AI technology advancement is not even falling behind the competition. Therefore, localization strategy will further strengthen their competitive edge."