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Microsoft shows off new AI-powered search for Bing

By Michael Low & Marcus Wong - on 15 Dec 2017, 11:00am

Microsoft shows off new AI-powered search for Bing

Despite the ubiquity of Google, Microsoft isn’t giving up the search engine battle just yet. They’ve just announced a slew of new features for Bing, and will be using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide better results and allow for more conversational search queries.

The updates mostly focus on making search more conversational, so you can get nuanced answers to your questions. New features starting to roll out include: Intelligent Search, Intelligent Image Search, and Conversational Search. The first image shows an example of Intelligent Image Search, and this feature lets you search for objects within images so you can, for example, find the exact model (and price) of that handbag Angelina Jolie was carrying at her last photoshoot.

“AI has come a long way in the ability to find information, but making sense of that information is the real challenge,” said Kristina Behr, a partner design and planning program manager with Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research group.

Engadget reports Bing will now find ways to make its results easier to understand by also providing relevant analogies or comparisons where possible. For example, instead of saying Syria is 71,498 square miles in response to a question of how big the country is, it would also say it's approximately the size of Florida.

Says Jake Hofman, a Microsoft senior researcher: "We want to reduce the number of times that people read a number and can't make sense of it. And we want to do that by providing some context, or an analogy, or perspective, that puts it in more familiar terms usually related to their everyday experience."

Bing is also looking to offer up multiple viewpoints for certain queries by using machine learning-powered insights on search interpretations. So if you ask  whether Yoga or Pilates is better, for example, they may tell you what Pilates is good for and where Yoga might be more beneficial.

The search service isn’t applying this to some of the more controversial queries, as a quick search by TechCrunch regarding marijuana health effects didn’t surface an Intelligent Search card, nor did questions regarding some hot-button topics like abortion.

Bing is also teaming up with Reddit so you can now directly get information in Reddit threads coming up as results to your search queries. So if you search something like "Why won't my water boil?," and a good answer appears in Reddit conversations, Bing will also surface parts of those conversations at the top of the search page.

If you want to see certain AMAs or read through popular ones, Bing will be able to surface those as well. AMAs will show up in a carousel at the top of the Bing results page, and you can even view upcoming AMAs.

Sources: Engadget, TechCrunch.