OpenAI plans new AI-powered search engine to take on Google

OpenAI’s ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, 18 May, 2023 (The Associated Press)
OpenAI’s ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, 18 May, 2023 (The Associated Press)

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, is set to launch an artificial intelligence-powered search engine that it hopes will challenge the dominance of Google, according to reports.

The announcement is expected to take place on Monday, just a day ahead of Google’s annual I/O conference – the search giant’s biggest event of the year, which is anticipated to be heavily focussed on AI.

Bloomberg and the Information have reported that Microsoft-backed OpenAI is working on a search product to potentially compete with Alphabet’s Google and with Perplexity, a well-funded AI search startup.

OpenAI declined to comment.

OpenAI’s search product is an extension of its flagship ChatGPT product, and enables ChatGPT to pull in direct information from the Web and include citations, according to Bloomberg. ChatGPT is OpenAI’s chatbot product that uses the company’s cutting-edge AI models to generate human-like responses to text prompts.

Industry observers have long called ChatGPT an alternative for gathering online information, though it has struggled with providing accurate and real-time information from the Web. OpenAI earlier gave it an integration with Microsoft’s Bing for paid subscribers. Meanwhile, Google has announced generative AI features for its own namesake engine.

Startup Perplexity, which has a valuation of $1 billion, was founded by a former OpenAI researcher, and has gained traction through providing an AI-native search interface that shows citations in results and images as well as text in its responses. It has 10 million monthly active users, according to a January blog post from the startup.

At the time, OpenAI’s ChatGPT product was called the fastest application to ever reach 100 million monthly active users after it launched in late 2022. However, worldwide traffic to ChatGPT’s website has been on a roller-coaster ride in the past year and is only now returning to its May 2023 peak, according to analytics firm Similarweb, and the AI company is under pressure to expand its user base.

An earlier attempt to bring updated and real-world information into ChatGPT, called ChatGPT plugins, was retired in April, according to a help centre posting on OpenAI’s website.

OpenAI recently announced a new update for ChatGPT Plus that gives the chatbot a memory, allowing it to learn and remember details about users.

Additional reporting from agencies.