Google CEO: The Future of Search and the Impact of AI

Search giant's leader Sundar Pichai talks about the transformation of search in the next decade, Google Bard, and the commercial possibilities of large language models.

April 10, 2023, 10:53 EDT

Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently discussed the future of search, the role of artificial intelligence (AI), and the potential of large language models (LLMs) in a wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal. Pichai shared insights on how he envisions the search experience evolving over the next decade, the commercial potential of LLM search, and the role of AI chatbots in search.

Evolving Search Experience

Pichai expressed that the search experience “will evolve substantively over the next decade,” as Google aims to understand users’ needs and help them achieve their goals. He mentioned that it is difficult to predict exactly how search will change, but it will likely involve elements of both link-based search and AI-driven chat models like Google Bard.

The Role of AI Chatbots in Search

AI has already significantly changed Google search, and Pichai expects this trend to continue. He envisions a future where LLMs and chat, like Google Bard, play a more significant role in search. When asked about the possibility of search evolving into conversation, Pichai said, “We are testing a variety of approaches so I don’t want to comment on the future iterations of it yet, but yes at a high level people come to Google to ask follow-up questions. We’ll be able to give them more powerful tools to be able to do that.”

Commercial Potential of LLM Search

When it comes to the commercial potential of LLMs and LLM search, Pichai remained elusive, emphasizing the importance of understanding users’ needs first before considering the commercial aspect. He said, “It’s tough to carve it out that way. You may be interested in ideas for how to celebrate a birthday, and at some point aspects of it become more commercial. We don’t come into it with the view of, we want to give you this commercial journey. It’s important to get the order right.”

Google Bard and Search Overlap

Pichai reiterated that Google Bard is not a search product, but acknowledged that there is some overlap between the two. He sees this as an opportunity for innovation, rather than a constraint. He also pointed out that being first to market isn’t always crucial, as Google has often not been the first to develop various products, such as search engines, browsers, email products, and mapping tools.

Key Takeaways

  • Search will evolve substantively over the next decade, with potential elements of link-based search and AI-driven chat models like Google Bard.
  • The role of AI chatbots in search is expected to grow, but the exact nature of that evolution remains uncertain.
  • The commercial potential of LLMs and LLM search is unclear, but Pichai believes it is essential to focus on users’ needs first.
  • There is some overlap between Google Bard and search, which Pichai sees as an opportunity for innovation.

To read the edited excerpts from Pichai’s interview with The Wall Street Journal, visit their website.

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