AI Wars: Winners and Losers

by Jim February 9, 2023

Welcome back! It’s started. The AI wars have begun, and Microsoft has cast the first stone by integrating ChatGPT into its Bing search engine. Technically it’s not openly available yet, but there is a demo online. So where does this leave Google? Well, they’re entering the fray with their Bard AI model, one that they hope will retain their user base and see off their old rival.

What I learned

  • AI wars are exciting. And scary!
  • What is a “zero-click result”?
  • What happens if publishers stop publishing?
  • Who do we trust?
  • Bing is reaping the early rewards.
  • Why eCommerce will still be huge.


Hey, welcome back Rankers! How you going? AI wars have begun. Are you ready for this? It’s exciting, it’s terrifying, it’s all those things. And someone asked me yesterday, well, what are you scared about? And I said, I’m scared about a lot of things. I’m scared about AI and neural networks being programmed by people with a bias. That’s something to be concerned about, whatever the bias might be. It’s the closed box strategy that we currently have now with algorithms and search engines. So how are we going to know what’s true and what’s not? We’ve got deep fakes happening in video, in imagery. Soon we won’t know what to believe and we’ll probably have a default position of everything is fake, especially if it’s unusual.

Bing & ChatGPT

But this is how Bing has launched ChatGPT. And I’m on a waiting list, a lot of people are. Some people aren’t in our office, I don’t know why or how they got in. But basically it’ll work like ChatGPT, except here’s the thing. Zero click results are going to become the norm, and we talked about that a few weeks ago. So zero click results would be for searches, like, “What is a zero click result,” as I showed you. And you don’t have to actually leave the Google environment to find out what that bit of information is. Well, the same is going to be true now with the incorporation of AI chat services within the search engines themselves.

So here we’re seeing that Bing has given us a… What is it? What have they asked for? I need to throw a dinner party. And it’s given me some ideas and suggestions straight up. Now, for some of those searches, like give me a recipe for something, it’s going to deliver the recipe right there in the AI, and I’m not going to need to click on any of these other results. So I’ve got my answer, I don’t need to go and see those publishers.

The problem with that is that the AI is learning all this information from these publishers. So in the future, as more and more publishers get less and less clicks from these sorts of services, are they going to be sustainable? Because let’s face it, the search engines deliver most of the traffic on the internet. And if they can’t keep publishing, how is the AI going to continue to learn? So, there’s that.

There’s also the issue around what’s real, what’s not real? How can I trust this result? What’s going to happen to advertising? What’s going to happen to E-commerce sites? Well, Google, and I’m talking about Google at the moment, but I think we’ll be talking more and more about Bing, especially since the rest of the world is using Google to go and find Bing. Look at that, that was this morning. And let’s have a look and see where it is today. That’s worldwide. Big spike, people checking out Bing and it got bigger. It’s dipped a bit as the US go to bed. But we’re going to be talking a lot more about it.

And what Bing is doing is it’s encouraging everyone to install the app, which I did. Now, I’ve been very reluctant to install Microsoft products since about 2008, when I switched across to OS X. And I wasn’t a fan of Microsoft in the nineties, especially after Windows 95. And they’re trying to, well, the whole antitrust ensued by them, basically blocking other browsers. And I think we’re going to see another browser wall now. Who’s going to have the browser? Bing just got me to install their app on my phone today, and Google controls most of the web with Chrome. So which browser will win? Because that’s going to have the inbuilt AI with it.

The other scary thing about this is what’s happening to all this data. We know that ChatGPT have said on their site that any data that you give it, they’re going to look at. Okay? It’s not private. So we know that search engines are taking that information from us all the time. So where does this head? Where does the business model of search go from here? Well, there’s a couple of things that the AI and these AI chat services don’t do well, right now anyway, and that is help me buy or sell a product or service. ChatGPT is two years old, it’s not going to give me local results that are relevant. It’s not going to tell me, “Where is there a plumber near me?” No, the search engines do that. So local search is still going to be big.

How are they making money?

The other thing that I think is still going to be big is shopping because the search engines make most of their money from E-commerce sites’ advertising, predominantly, as well as lead gen. But if you are looking for a product or service, how are these AI tools going to help right now? They can’t really right now. However, I sense that will change in the not too distant future, in that they will possibly have a personal AI shopping assistant that helps you select products based on your search history, based on your purchase history, based on the E-commerce sites that you visit, based on the products that you look on at eBay and on Amazon, based on the products that you might add to a wishlist. Or maybe there’s a business model here where AI starts creating the wishlist for yourself and you can add things to it and it learns from that, and it can tell you from that.

But then what happens to that data? That gets uploaded to an AI neural network somewhere. So unless we have the computing power of an AI network locally stored, then I think we’re in for more privacy concerns than less over the next few years, and more concerns about the intrusion of big tech into our lives. Having said that, these things are really exciting because you can do a lot with them. You can, as I’ve said before, find things in your business to automate that maybe they were just too hard to automate before. But now you can use a tool like this maybe to write a brief for a programmer. When I’m saying a tool like this, I mean ChatGPT at the moment, Bard isn’t released.

And incidentally, in case you’re wondering what Bard is or Bard was, Bard is the thing that this programmer talked about last year as saying that the AI it was working on has a soul. So this is the one that Google’s releasing. Now, Google said, “No, no, no, that’s not the case. It’s just behaving like it has a soul because it said it was scared of death.” That’s nice. Just don’t try to kill it. You could be in trouble.

LaMDA is… Let’s see, let’s go for Bard and we’ll bring up the actual acronym and what LaMDA stands for. Here it is, Language Model for Dialogue Applications. I hate big tech branding. It’s rubbish. Facebook does it well, Messenger. But Google’s never done it well, and Bing’s done it, well, Microsoft’s done it better. But LaMDA? Horrible. Anyway, so the example that they use here from the screenshot is this question about is it easier to learn the piano or guitar? What it doesn’t have though is any sort of citations or references of how it came up with that information. But if you get that as a result, and that’s the question you asked, you are not going to be clicking on any of these things.

So I think what Google will have to do is the shopping tab is probably going to become the main search function within Google that will start delivering traffic, or that will continue to grow traffic because the AI and the chat tools don’t deliver that information currently. And also local search will also deliver traffic.

So in the short term, I think what business owners and site owners need to do is double down on all the things that make it easier for AI to understand their site, as we’ve said before, because we know it helps the ads, right? And look, the search engines and especially Google are getting a lot better at understanding these things because we’ve helped train them over the years. But it doesn’t hurt, even though Google is so smart it can work all these things out about your site, it’s still going to be helpful if you have a cleaner, less noisy code, easier to understand, good metadata, all those things around your site, you’re going to have a better chance when the AI wars are really heating up in the next few weeks, because it’s a race now. And Google is worried because you might go and do an informational search and get a zero click and not click on any ads, but the next search that you do, you may. And the reason for that is that Google is giving you the result that you want.

Now, as I’ve said before, I’m getting results out of ChatGPT I just wouldn’t even bother going to Google for now because they’re informational type searches rather than transactional. And I have to wade through five or six results and then hit the back button until I find what I’m looking for. Whereas what these tools have done is they’ve gone and done that work for you, right? So it’s like being number one, but on steroids. Except that they’re not sending you to my site, even though they may have used my information to come up with their answer, is what the publishers will say. And we’re already seeing it now with some of the AI tools around image search.

So Getty Images is now suing Stable Diffusion AI, which is an open source AI platform. And Stable AI, I think, is the commercial entity that has been sued by Getty Images. Because Getty Images say, “You’ve used all our content without permission, and inappropriately.” So then we come down to what’s fair use. How does a court or a judge decide what is copyright, what’s not copyright? In Australia, we don’t have any fair use laws, so how does it apply in different borders? All those sorts of things. It’s a minefield. It’s exciting, it’s scary. Hold on to your hats because it’s going to be a very interesting year. If you want to find out more about this, stay tuned because our industry is changing rapidly and there’s some exciting stuff happening.

So, like, share, subscribe, tell your friends a bit. I’d love to know what you’re seeing and what you’re thinking. For me right now, it is short term. I think E-commerce will benefit because Google will have to double down on that to make sure they continue to get revenue. And it makes sense, as the AI doesn’t handle those things. And also, local search, make sure you’ve got your local search sorted as well because those things will be really important. They’re things that the AI won’t be able to service straight up, but they will. There’ll be personal assistants coming, there’s already a few out there. And there’ll be more that come that are just going to be like what we see today, but on steroids. Hopefully that’s helpful, and we will see you very, very soon. Thanks very much. Bye.

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