The internet search wars are back.

The emergence of AI systems capable of generating direct textual answers to questions — most notably the ChatGPT chatbot created by San Francisco-based OpenAI — has opened the first new front in the battle for search dominance since Google fended off a concerted challenge from Microsoft’s Bing more than a decade ago.

Google and Microsoft are both close to announcing revamps of their search engines to include direct answers supplied by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, several search start-ups have already embedded AI in their services, giving the first glimpse of how the technology behind ChatGPT might transform one of the biggest online markets.

The sudden spurt of experimentation is long overdue, said Greg Sterling, an analyst who has followed the search market since 1999. For younger users in particular, Google’s search results pages seem cluttered and strewn with advertising, he said. “People are ready for something that is simpler,…

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