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Google rolls back AI search feature after bugs and glitches| GuyWhoKnowsThings


When Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, presented a Generative AI feature for the company's search engine. Last month, he and his colleagues demonstrated the new capability with six text-based queries that the public could try out.

Questions included “how do you clean a fabric couch” and “what should I use to remove a coffee stain from my carpet?” These were intended to highlight how Google's new feature, AI Summariescould generate comprehensive and useful information summaries on top of traditional search results.

But on Friday, according to testing by The New York Times, only one of the six queries returned an overview of AI. Instead, the feature was noticeably less common. The search for “what should I use to remove a coffee stain from my carpet?” now resulted in a snippet of text from a website, JDog Carpet Cleaning & Floor Care, while “how do you clean a fabric couch” was replaced with a link to the HGTV website with the answer. (Search results may vary by user and location.)

The disappearance of AI overviews for some of the searches appeared to be part of a broader pushback following the new technology. produced a litany of falsehoods and errors – including recommending glue as part of a pizza recipe and suggesting people eat stones to get nutrients. Users complained loudly on social networks. about the errors, in many cases openly mocking Google.

Liz Reid, who was recently promoted to head of search at Google, he wrote in a blog post on Thursday that the company had narrowed AI overviews in certain ways, launching “additional trigger refinements” to offer more careful answers about health, turning off misleading advice and limiting the inclusion of satire and responses from users of forums like Reddit.

“We will continue to improve when and how we display AI overviews and strengthen our protections,” he wrote, adding that Google was working on updates to improve broad sets of search results.

Google spokesperson Ashley Thompson said in a statement Friday that the company had made more than a dozen technical updates to its systems.

“AI overviews are helping people with a large number of search queries today, and serve as a starting point for accessing content on the web.” The company added that while it was making adjustments to improve AI overviews, it would not abandon the feature in the long term.

The setback was a blow to Google's efforts to keep up with rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, the maker of the ChatGPT chatbot, in the frenetic race to lead AI. It also underscored the difficult strategic choice Google faces over whether to adopt AI technology that may be unreliable or keep its popular search engine the same, and risk falling behind its peers.

Google had chosen to go slower than Microsoft, which early last year put more conversational AI into its Bing search engine. Google, which has many more users than Bing, tested artificial intelligence features for its search engine a year before introducing AI Overviews. The company said the new feature would roll out immediately to US users and to more than a billion people before the end of the year.

But ultimately, Google “should have implemented this more slowly,” said Patrick Hall, an assistant professor of decision sciences at George Washington University Business School. “Once something like this happens, you really have to back away. And at the very least, there is damage to the reputation” of the company.

Google, which has led internet search for more than two decades, has struggled since OpenAI launched ChatGPT in 2022. Some tech industry experts considered the chatbot's ability to generate responses a serious threat to the search engine. from Google, which has been the most popular method. for information online.

Since then, Google has worked aggressively to regain its edge in AI, launching a family of technology called Gemini, which includes new AI models for developers. The company also brought the technology to YouTube, Gmail and Docs, helping users create videos, emails and drafts with less effort.

Last month, Reid said at Google's developer conference that the search engine would Google users more with AI Overviews. He highlighted increasingly complex requests that Google could answer with the feature, but those capabilities have not yet been released to users.

In the scenario, simpler questions like “how can I get the smell of a campfire out of my clothes?” They returned AI responses that included venting, adding baking soda, and sprinkling with lemon juice.

But when users got their hands on the new service, they found that AI Overviews sometimes generated incorrect (or downright dangerous) answers, including a recommendation to put non-toxic glue on pizza to make the cheese stick. He also misinterpreted some websites he cited and got the presidential story wrong.

Of the six questions Google released to the public, the only one that consistently triggered an overview of AI on Friday was “what are cool science projects I can do with my 12-year-old son?”

The answer? Grow crystals, extract DNA from saliva and write a message with invisible ink.


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