Sunday, May 19, 2024

Google Trials AI-Generated Search Answers in the UK


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  • Google has initiated a trial of search answers crafted by artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK, following a similar feature tested in the US last year.
  • Initially, only a small percentage of logged-in UK users will encounter AI-generated “overviews” positioned at the top of select search results. Despite Google’s dominance as the leading search engine, Microsoft’s rival Bing already incorporates its Copilot AI.
  • Concerns have been raised by some publishers regarding the potential impact of AI-generated answers on their website traffic. They fear that comprehensive chatbot-style responses might satisfy users’ inquiries without requiring visits to their sites. AI-generated answers are anticipated to contain fewer links and advertisements.

Dubbed the “Search Generative Experience” by Google, this feature has been available in the US for nearly a year but was limited to users who signed up through Google Labs.

The UK trial, Google states, will involve a “small slice” of UK search traffic, specifically chosen from logged-in users.

Recent reports, notably in the Financial Times, speculated that Google might explore offering subscriptions for premium AI search features in the future. However, Google has denied any plans for developing an ad-free search experience.

Hema Budaraju, a key figure in driving Google’s generative AI initiatives in search, emphasized that the new search results will continue to display links and advertisements. She underscored that maintaining traffic to content creators remains a “priority.”

Moreover, she claimed that AI-powered search results are showcasing a broader range of sources. Budaraju highlighted that user engagement metrics indicate an increased variety of sources being clicked on by users.

The AI-generated “overview” will be presented only in response to specific queries where ongoing trials have indicated their usefulness.

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Budaraju cited examples such as searches for “how to get marks off painted walls,” which users have found beneficial. Nonetheless, Google acknowledges the inherent risks associated with AI systems, including the potential for generating harmful, offensive, or biased content. Budaraju stressed Google’s commitment to upholding information quality and ensuring responsible content generation.

To mitigate these risks, Google has chosen to adopt a more cautious approach, prioritizing accuracy over fluency in AI-generated answers.

For instance, AI-generated answers are not provided for all queries, especially those lacking sufficient high-quality sources of information. Users are encouraged to provide feedback if they encounter any issues with the search results, with Google emphasizing that the trial is experimental.

Despite positive responses from US users thus far, Google acknowledges the potential challenges that may arise if AI-generated search answers are eventually rolled out to billions of users worldwide.

Researchers have highlighted concerns regarding the substantial energy consumption associated with powering large AI systems, which comes with environmental implications.

While Google’s trial of AI-generated search answers in the UK marks a significant advancement in search technology, it also underscores the need for careful consideration of ethical, accuracy, and environmental factors as AI continues to reshape digital experiences.

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Rohit Belakud
Rohit Belakud
Rohit Belakud is an experienced tech professional, boasting 7 years of experience in the field of computer science, web design, content creation, and affiliate marketing. His proficiency extends to PPC, Google Adsense and SEO, ensuring his clients achieve maximum visibility and profitability online. Renowned as a trusted and highly rated expert, Rohit's reputation precedes him as a reliable professional delivering top-notch results. Beyond his professional pursuits, Rohit channels his creativity as an author, showcasing his passion for storytelling and engaging content creation. With a blend of skill, dedication, and a flair for innovation, Rohit Belakud stands as a beacon of excellence in the digital landscape.

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