Google announced Wednesday that it’s giving its signature product, the search engine, an AI makeover—potentially transforming the way users view search results after Microsoft announced a similar plan.
Google results with AI will be available to select people in the U.S. who apply for a waitlist to be part of Search Lab, where they’ll be able to test out how the product is working and give Google feedback, the company announced Wednesday at its annual developer conference, Google I/O.
Search with AI will be labeled as an experiment for users—though it won’t be available for at least a few weeks—and Google said the AI-generated information will be more factual than conversational, unlike other AI tools like ChatGPT, AP reported; however, Google also announced Wednesday that Bard, its chatbot-like experiment, is now widely available for people to try.
Combining AI with Google Search will let users type a question into the search bar and receive one main result that synthesizes the information gathered—but there will still be normal search links provided below the generated answer.
The company did not provide a timeline for when AI-based results will roll out to the general public.
The service will not be able to respond to certain questions about health and finance matters. People searching for those will continue to be directed to normal search results for their answers.
The AI-based updates and changes to Google products come as Microsoft, one of its main competitors, is also working to incorporate AI into its search engine, Bing, and as ChatGPT continues to grow in popularity. Google has maintained its status as the go-to search engine for most of the world for at least two decades, but the stock of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, dropped significantly when Bing incorporated AI. The share price has since recovered—even as rumors swirl of Samsung dropping Google, according to the New York Times and CNN. Microsoft also has an early advantage in the AI chatbot race, investing billions of dollars into ChatGPT creator OpenAI and unveiling plans to integrate ChatGPT technology into its suite of products.
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“We are at an exciting inflection point,” said Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. at the conference. “We are reimagining all our products, including search.”
AI search tools weren’t the only update from Google on Wednesday, as the company announced plans to infuse more AI technology into its products. Soon, Gmail will have a “Help Me Write” option that people can use to write long responses to emails in seconds, and the company announced “Magic Editor,” a tool for Google Photos that will automatically edit pictures.
5%. That’s how much Alphabet’s shares increased after the series of Google and AI announcements, rising to $112.65. The increase brough Alphabet to its highest level since Bing remodeled its search engine using AI in February, AP reported.
AI is changing Google search: What the IO announcement means for you (Washington Post)