Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has introduced a number of new features to Bing and is using artificial intelligence (AI) to make its search engine smarter, more reliable and better equipped to take on Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) Google.
At an AI-focused event in San Francisco, the Redmond, Washington-based company revealed that Bing now has the ability to measure how many reputable sources are behind a given answer, as well as summarize opposing perspectives to contentious questions. These new capabilities are designed to make Bing a more “trustworthy” source of information, the company said in a blog post.
Microsoft’s leveraging of its AI research to enhance the reliability of Bing forms part of its strategy to better challenge Google’s dominant position as the world’s number one search engine. The move also came at a time when the credibility of search engines has been called into question, due to a surge in fake news. (See also: Apple Replaces Bing With Google in Siri and Spotlight.)
“As a search engine we have a responsibility to provide answers that are comprehensive and objective,” said Jordi Ribas, Microsoft's corporate vice president for AI products.
Ribas provided examples of how Bing’s new features offer multiple opposing viewpoints to certain questions. For instance, users curious to know if coffee is good for them will be presented with different perspectives from sources. One makes a case about coffee’s ability to increase metabolism, while another references how it can raise blood pressure. Similar results can be found for more sensitive questions.
Microsoft’s new AI-powered features have been extended to images, too. Users can now search for images within images — and even buy items they find there, such as jewelry worn by a celebrity.
To further improve the effectiveness of search results, Microsoft also announced a new partnership with Reddit. As part of the deal, content from the popular online forum will now be filtered into Bing. (See also: Apple, Microsoft Will Drive 2018 Tech Earnings Growth: Moody's.)
“Bing users whose queries are best answered with relevant Reddit conversations, will see those conversations at the top of the page, easily getting perspectives from millions of Reddit users,” the San Francisco, California-based company said in a blog post explaining the partnership.