Breaking the Mold: Sam Altman's Quest for a New Kind of Search Engine

Sam Altman, the boss of OpenAI, talked about how to make a new kind of search engine that could be different from Google. He shared his ideas during a podcast interview with Lex Fridman. Altman thinks that just making a better version of Google isn't enough. He wants to change how we find information entirely. Instead of showing ads and links like Google, Altman imagines a system where getting answers is easier and more direct, possibly using AI in new ways.

Altman believes that to truly compete with Google, they shouldn't just try to be a better Google. He thinks it's more exciting to invent a brand-new way to help people find, use, and understand information. He mentioned that ChatGPT, an AI tool OpenAI developed, is already changing how some people get information for certain things. He hopes to expand on that.

Image: Lex Fridman / YT

Talking about ads, Altman said having ads in a search engine feels wrong to him. He likes that ChatGPT users pay for the service, so they know their answers aren't influenced by companies paying for ads. Altman worries about a future where AI suggests things to buy or do because those suggestions might be biased by who's paying for ads.

Altman also doesn't like how, in today's internet, users become the product that's sold to advertisers. He prefers a simpler business model where users pay for the service so they know they're getting unbiased information.

While discussing the possibility of an AI search engine without ads, Altman didn't say they were definitely building a direct challenge to Google. However, he hinted that the right AI search system, one that's different and doesn't rely on ads, hasn't been made yet. He's interested in creating a search experience that respects users more and might be more trustworthy because it's not based on selling ads.

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