Google faced the challenge of integrating artificial intelligence into its search engine

Google has been working on integrating a conversational assistant into its search engine for more than a year. The idea of ​​this future functionality is simple: for the company it is about adapting to changes in usage since the launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 and using artificial intelligence (AI) to better respond to requests from internet users. But changing the operation and interface of the group’s flagship presents a challenge: it raises obvious questions about service reliability, but also raises economic concerns.

The questioning is such that Google is considering it, he said Financial times, to require payment of a subscription to access all or part of these new search functionalities via AI. Make optimal use of the answers formulated by the chatbot would therefore only be reserved for subscribers, the Economisch Dagblad explains on Thursday, April 4. For Google, this would represent a break with the long-standing economic model for its search engine: a free service funded by advertisements linked to keywords typed by the Internet user (adwords) and placed in various places on the results pages.

One of the reasons for these questions is related to a hidden face of AI services: their costs. Training a language or image processing model with hundreds of billions of parameters can cost more than $100 million (92 million euros) of computer computing capacity, but its use also requires spending a few fractions of a cent for each request from an Internet user. This price is higher than for a classic search on a search engine (for example, it is 10 dollars per million characters typed in the search query and 30 dollars in response, for OpenAI’s powerful GPT-4 Turbo model). In February 2023, ChatGPT OpenAI cost $700,000 per day to use, according to SemiAnalysis estimates, for 13 million active users. There are now 100 million.

Significant costs

These significant costs are reflected in the first marketing methods chosen for conversational AI functionalities: to take advantage of Copilot, the Microsoft Assistant created with OpenAI AI models, in the Office office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) , you must pay an additional subscription of $30 per month. To use similar capabilities in the Google Workspace office suite, you’ll have to pay $20 per month. Google also launched the Google One AI Premium subscription in February, which gives access to its best AI model (1.0 Ultra) in its conversational assistant Gemini (formerly called Bard) and its use in the Gmail, Meet, Docs services. …Available in 150 countries, but not France, it’s billed at $19.99 per month, compared to just $2 to $10 for Google One plans, created in 2018 so you can buy more online storage for your documents.

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