September 27, 2023

This Is the New AI-Powered Google Search

Cathy Edwards on stage at Google IO 2023 announcing generative AI responses in Google Search

Microsoft has been pressing ahead with generative AI features in the Bing search engine, integrated with Bing Chat. Today, Google revealed similar changes going into Google Search.

Google showed off AI features coming to web search on stage today, at the company’s Google I/O event. Much like the AI responses in Bing web searches, AI-generated answers appear above traditional web link results, a few seconds after the initial page load. Google is calling the new feature “SGE,” short for Search Generative Experience. The AI answers include links and external embedded content in the answers, like Bing Chat.

Google AI answer

The AI answers have buttons for possible follow-up questions, or the ability to ask your own question based on the answer. The AI snapshots have different layouts depending on the answer — for example, searching for the best commuter bike displays something closer to the existing Google Shopping link carousel in web search. Notably, the snapshots can also take up a lot of space on the page, pushing normal results below the screen in many cases.

Google said in a blog post, “When searching for a product, you’ll get a snapshot of noteworthy factors to consider and products that fit the bill. You’ll also get product descriptions that include relevant, up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices and product images. That’s because this new generative AI shopping experience is built on Google’s Shopping Graph, which has more than 35 billion product listings — making it the world’s most comprehensive dataset of constantly-changing products, sellers, brands, reviews and inventory out there. In fact, every hour, more than 1.8 billion listings are refreshed in our Shopping Graph to give people fresh, reliable results.”

There are still many potential problems with this level of AI integration, as there are with Bing’s AI responses. It’s possible for the AI model to make up answers or interpret questions incorrectly. Google told The Verge that these changes are opt-in for now, and don’t have the same “personality” used in Google Bard. It’s not clear when this will be rolled out to everyone, but it does seem inevitable.

You can join the waitlist for access to AI answers when they become available.

Source: The Verge, Google, YouTube

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