I like That IntructGPT Occasionally Takes Sides
I know I’ve spent the past few weeks endlessly complaining about Google Search, especially compared to asking questions directly to InstructGPT, but today I was particularly frustrated by the results I was getting on Google.
There is a whole class of questions particularly where you are seeking advice on some kind of decision in your life, where I’d argue google search severely underperforms. This is especially true in areas related to business or anything even close to commerce or industry.
By using InstructGPT as an alternative, I tweeted a few weeks back that I’m noticing a change in my own OpenAI Playground Usage:
Although InstructGPT will often give you a multitude of explanations or outright disclose there is no single answer:
… one thing I do like about it is that, at times, it does take sides. After usually walking you through the common options or explanations, it does this in a very subtle way by leading with some explanations over others.
Why does it do this? Well, I think it’s the result of its reinforcement learning with human feedback alignment, which tries to make it answer questions crisply. As a result of this summarization process it was fine tuned to do, I think it does have to occasionally take sides on things every once in a while. And I really appreciate this quiet signal mentally.
This development is such a breath of fresh air compared to google search. When I was googling something earlier today, a painful moment was not only having to remember all the different options people were sharing online, but also reading contradictory advice from various search result listings.
There’s something about this particular situation - where your search results are giving you conflicting or contradictory information - which is just so frustrating for me mentally. I think it’s a result of search engine marketers trying to confuse, scare, or overinflate the decision at hand in order to sell themselves as the solution to your query.
At the same time, I also think Google just views this as a more “comprehensive” search result experience. I think, in their view, various opinions, even contradictory ones in the search results, ultimately allow a consumer to be more informed and make a better decision overall. While I can agree with the sentiment of this, the reality is that I often walk away from Google Search with no clear answer at all and just feel like the search results have become too gamed by commercial interests at this point.
Typically, in this kind of situation, where I’m seeking advice and Google does not give clear answers, I end up going to my personal network and getting information that way. I like that answers from people in real life are more trustworthy and also you can get back clear preferences. Some options are clearly better than others.
While InstructGPT may be giving back “conventional” answers to questions or perhaps repeating the “average” answers based on its training data, I still like that every once in a while, after disclosing the various conventional options out there, it does lean more to some answers over others. Also, it is doing all of this in very clear language and very little mental load compared to google search. It’s more like how you’d interact with a trusted friend in real life:
In some scenarios, even if the answers are very conventional or what you’d see on Google search anyways, the fact that InstructGPT so crisply synthesizes and summarizes them instantly in plain-text, it just makes it so much better as a potential advisor than Google search.
The real dream of AI would be to get back definitive answers to questions. In the way a seasoned entrepreneur who has significant industry experience could answer precisely, sometimes defying the conventional wisdom altogether. Or even how your friends can provide actual advice or introduce you to contacts based on their own hard-earned real life experiences.
Regardless, even for just trying to understand the conventional options that are out there, I’m really finding myself using InstructGPT far more often than Google Search. To be honest, the last thing I want to look at nowadays are Google search result listings.