ChatGPT getting search feature to rival Google

OpenAI is developing a feature for ChatGPT that can search the web and cite sources in its results, according to a person familiar with the matter, potentially competing head on with Alphabet Inc.’s Google and AI search startup Perplexity.

The feature would allow users to ask ChatGPT a question and receive answers that use details from the web with citations to sources such as Wikipedia entries and blog posts, according to the person, who asked to remain anonymous discussing private information.

One version of the product also uses images alongside written responses to questions, when they’re relevant.

If a user asked ChatGPT how to change a doorknob, for instance, the results might include a diagram to illustrate the task, the person said.

The Information reported on a search product in development in February. The details of how the product might work have not previously been reported. OpenAI declined to comment.

OpenAI is under immense pressure to expand the capabilities of its most well-known product as a growing list of rivals are pushing out chatbots — and search has proven to be a key area of interest for the AI industry.

Perplexity has gained popularity — and a $1 billion valuation — by offering an AI-powered search engine that emphasizes accuracy and citations.

Google has also been racing to rethink its core search experience around AI and is expected to reveal the latest plans for its Gemini AI models at its annual I/O event next week.

On social media, there has been tremendous speculation about OpenAI’s search plans.

Some users on X, formerly known as Twitter, recently pointed to the existence of the web page as an indicator that a search feature could be coming from OpenAI.

Visitors to that URL will see a “not found” message in small type on the page, but over the weekend it briefly re-routed to, the official website where users can interact with the chatbot.

Such a feature would expand on what OpenAI currently offers to some users.

ChatGPT can automatically pull up search results online for certain queries — such as the current weather in San Francisco — but the feature is currently limited to those who pay for the chatbot.

In some cases, this option also provides citations. But the product can have hiccups: When asked on Sunday, “What did President Biden do this weekend?” it said he was in Delaware. While accurate, it cited a news story from 2023.

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ChatGPT getting search feature to rival Google