BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

The search engine market could be on the verge of a tidal shift. Reuters, last week, reported that OpenAI was planning to launch an artificial intelligence-powered search product as early as this week, putting it in direct competition with Google, but also with its close partner Microsoft. OpenAI has denied the details of that report, but didn’t completely reject the premise.

Google, meanwhile, is expected to talk a bit about its own AI search plans at its annual I/O conference, along with lots of other AI announcements tied to its Gemini AI, on Tuesday, making it very clear that the market for finding things online is evolving very quickly.

While things are certain to change considerably in the coming months as the technology gets smarter and search engines, both giant and startup, adapt to user habits, here’s where things stand with AI and search today.


The search leader is already testing AI-generated answers in its regular search results as it hurries to catch up with the competition. These “AI Overviews,” which have been slipping into the search results fields of some users for the past month or so, anticipate questions and come up with a summary tied to the search query.

Google, meanwhile, has also been experimenting with incorporating generative AI into search in its Search Labs. Among the areas it’s exploring are plain-spoken answers to user questions, suggestions for specific user needs, and helping with visualizations via a generative art tool. For now, users have to opt in to play with those features, but the experiments could foreshadow some of Google’s longer-term plans.


Microsoft’s search engine got a head start on the AI race when it incorporated OpenAI’s generative AI. While the initial rollout was flawed, with some high-profile hallucinations, Microsoft quickly updated it, cutting down on troubles and adding source links, so people can decide whether to trust the answers it gives.

Now known as Copilot, the chatbot offers detailed answer that are up-to-the-minute, thanks to its internet connection. Last December, Microsoft unveiled “deep search,” an enhanced search mode that expands a query into a more comprehensive description in order to better capture a user’s intent and expectations—and lets it search deeper than it would with just a few keywords. Then, in March, Microsoft upgraded the tool to use GPT-4 Turbo, giving it a deeper well of knowledge to draw from.


This startup, one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies for 2024, uses AI to give more accurate and contextualized answers to user searches. It uses a combination of large language models (including OpenAI’s GPT-4) along with Web crawler to help users find the answers they need in a quick fashion—and it has quickly become one of the most buzzworthy products in tech.

There’s both a free and paid version of the search engine. Those who shell out $20 per month have access to more powerful AI models. Rather than giving you a list of links, which you’ll use to find the answer yourself, it does the research for you, writing a summary and then listing its sources. (It will also suggest follow-up questions.) And its Copilot feature will help you narrow your search to give you the most useful responses.


While not as well known as some of the others on this list, Brave uses AI to provide fast, accurate results. It has the added bonus of not tracking users or their searches, removing privacy fears that your data will be sold to third-parties. In an update earlier this month, the company said it received nearly 10 billion queries in the past year—some 27 million queries per day. The engine also supports multiple languages in its responses.