My short answer as to whether Google should be concerned about is "yes" - not because of any direct evidence or because of my initial experience of using ChatGPT but because of evidence of how other businesses have been affected by innovation.
My experience of using ChatGPT
My first encounter with ChatGPT was to see if it could help with writing my 'What I Didn't Know about Epilepsy' article'. The following is a record of the chat:
This was a good answer so I gave it a 'thumbs up'. I was then asked whether the answer could be improved so I pointed out that as seizures may be a symptom of other medical problems (for example, diabetes, alcoholism or drug abuse), epilepsy is only usually considered after at least two seizures have occurred. Taking this into account, I suggested that the last sentence read as follows: Some people with epilepsy experience only a few seizures in their lifetime, while others may have recurrent seizures on a regular basis.
I then asked another question about epilepsy:
I gave this answer another 'thumbs up' and didn't suggest any modifications. I then tried asking whether certain numbers were prime numbers...
ChatGPT got this and several other prime numbers right, then...
Unfortunately, 3 * 143 = 429, not 431, so 431 is a prime number. I tried again the next day but ChatGPT was still insisting that 431 is not a prime. The only difference being that the factors are 3, 11 and 13. If you multiplty these factors, you still get 429 and not 431!
Should Google be Concerned?
As you can see with my experiments, ChatGPT is not perfect so it would be easy for large, well-established companies like Google to dismiss ChatGPT as having no threat to their businesses. So, should Google be concerned?
Successful companies, like empires, rise and then either crash or plateau. A long period of plateauing builds up a company's confidence which makes it less likely to be aware of challenges and innovations.
A recent example of this is online banking. Why would small start-ups like Monzo or Starling pose any threat to well-established, high street banks? It wasn't just confidence built up over the years that got in the way of providinfg the same facilities as online banks - the high street banks had legacy hardware and software which simply weren't up to to the job.
An older example is the dramatic rise and fall of the Blackberry mobile phone (shown in the graph below). Why would Blackberry have been concerned about the introduction of the iPhone in late June 2007 when three years later its sales were still increasing at a dramatic rate?
I think that Google should be concerned about ChatGPT not only because of the examples given above but also because of my later experiences of using ChatGPT.
I needed to find out when iPhones were first introduced so instead of using Google, I asked ChatGPT and got the answer I needed. I then realised how smooth the process had been:
I wasn't presented with a list of websites.
I didn't have to judge which website would give me the answer I needed.
I didn't have to click through:
Requests to manage or accept cookies.
Requests for donations
Requests to sign up for newsletters.
I didn't have to scroll though multiple advertisements.
I also needed to remind myself how to create nested bullets in Markdown. I asked ChatGPT and got the answer I needed. If you need to know what Markdown is, try asking ChatGPT.
So, from now on, I am going to use ChatGPT in preference to Google and if a lot of other people do this, I think that Google should really be concerned.