AI ‘Inflection Point’ in 2023 Ushered in with Search, Browsing

It appears 2023 will mark a critical inflection point for artificial intelligence, according to Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith, who calls AI “the most consequential technology advance of our lifetime” and says it will change “almost everything. Because, like no technology before it, these AI advances augment humanity’s ability to think, reason, learn and express ourselves.” One example is Microsoft’s infusion of AI in two common tools — the search engine and the web browser — with new versions of its Bing search engine and Edge browser, tools positioned “as an AI co-pilot for the web.”

“In effect, the industrial revolution is now coming to knowledge work. And knowledge work is fundamental to everything,” Smith writes in a blog post that ruminates on his “many months” use of not only OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which Microsoft has begun integrating into Bing, but also the AI services the company has been developing internally, one of which now powers its Edge browser.

Smith concludes, “AI is a powerful tool for advancing critical thinking and stimulating creative expression,” functionalities that will improve further in the coming months and years.

For now, Microsoft is putting a major focus on the ability “to search for information” and “to seek answers to questions,” as is Alphabet’s Google, which has yet to allow public interaction with its AI search products (as Microsoft has, as of Tuesday, at but is sharing future plans.

“There are 10 billion search queries a day, but we estimate half of them go unanswered,” according to Microsoft corporate VP and CMO Yusuf Mehdi, who says “that’s because people are using search to do things it wasn’t originally designed to do. It’s great for finding a website, but for more complex questions or tasks too often it falls short.”

AI “can help people uncover insights amid complex data and processes. It speeds up our ability to express what we learn more quickly,” Smith writes in a post emphasizing AI ethics. For an entry level use case like search, that translates to more relevant and complete results as well as “a new chat experience and the ability to generate content,” Mehdi writes.

Attempting to take AI out of the realm of the conceptual and into the practical, a Media Insider commentary on “AI as strategic partner in my day-to-day life” describes delight in offloading menial chores to ChatGPT: “I asked it to provide a weekly meal plan for my family centered around the Mediterranean diet. It took 30 seconds and came back with a comprehensive plan for the week, which we used to craft our shopping list.”

Microsoft’s New AI-Powered Bing: Here Are 5 Things You’ll Be Able to Do, CNET, 2/8/23
I Tried Microsoft’s New AI-Powered Bing. Here’s What It’s Like, CNN, 2/8/23
I Tried Microsoft’s New AI-Powered Bing. Search Will Never Be the Same, The Wall Street Journal, 2/7/23
A Tech Race Begins as Microsoft Adds AI to Its Search Engine, The New York Times, 2/7/23
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Why Search Is Changed Forever (Video), The Wall Street Journal, 2/7/23
Microsoft’s New Bing and Edge Hands-On: Surprisingly Well-Integrated AI, Engadget, 2/7/23
Bing’s App Sees a 10x Jump in Downloads After Microsoft’s AI News, TechCrunch, 2/8/23

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