Google to use AI-generated answers in search results


Google on Tuesday said it would introduce AI-generated answers to online queries, in one of the biggest changes to its search engine in 25 years.

“I’m excited to announce that we will begin launching this fully revamped experience, ‘AI overviews,’ to everyone in the US this week,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said at an event in California.

Pichai added that the feature would soon be available in other countries and accessible to more than a billion people.

With the change, Google’s search results will feature an AI summary at the top of the page before the more typical unfurling of links and features.

These AI answers, generated by Google’s Gemini technology, offer succinct summaries of its findings with links to the online sources that supplied the information.

“You can ask whatever’s on your mind or whatever you need to get done – from researching to planning to brainstorming – and Google will take care of the legwork,” said Google Search team boss Liz Reid.

The change seems to be an answer to growing pressure from AI-powered search engines like Perplexity, and the repeated rumours that OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, is building its own AI search tool.

Searches through AI chats have also become a feature of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, with users able to get information from the web without resorting to Google.

These alternatives are praised by some for providing a much cleaner experience to search users than the often cluttered results of a classic search query.

Creators and small publishers are nervous about the change, fearing users will no longer click through to websites to find information.

Research firm Gartner predicts traffic to the web from search engines will fall 25 percent by 2026 because of the introduction of AI bots.

Google pushed back at the suggestion that ChatGPT-style AI interactions could impact its business, which depends almost exclusively on advertising sales from its search engine.

“We’ve found that with AI Overviews, people use Search more, and are more satisfied with their results,” Reid said.

“Rather than breaking your question into multiple searches, you can ask your most complex questions, with all the nuances and caveats you have in mind, all in one go.”

The company said such generative AI tools are making life easier for users, whether they’re looking for a yoga studio, planning a trip or preparing a meal.

The company will also soon start testing applying AI to searches based on video content as the query source, according to Reid.

As an example, this would allow users to ask Google to diagnose a broken appliance by filming it with a smartphone and get tips for getting it fixed.

‘Intuitive and helpful’

Such multimodal queries were among the highlights of OpenAI’s release on Monday of GPT-4o, an update to OpenAI’s flagship model.

GPT-4o can generate content or understand commands in voice, text, or images.

OpenAI’s update to its technology proved to be extremely conversational — able to crack jokes, write songs and help tutor a student in algebra.

Google, like OpenAI, also showed demos of staff members asking its AI to recognize the surroundings via a smartphone camera and demonstrate other assistant-like skills.

These new abilities are designed to be “conversational, intuitive and helpful,” according to Gemini Experiences and Google Assistant general manager Sissie Hsiao.

“You can collaborate with the most intelligent and personalized Gemini yet.”

Making digital assistants even smarter and human-like is seen as the next battleground for generative AI with Apple close to an agreement with OpenAI to use the powers of ChatGPT on the iPhone, according to US media reports.

That deal could be part of the major AI announcements expected from the iPhone maker at an event in California next month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *