Google Updates Search AI to Summarise and Categorise Articles

Google Updates Search AI to Summarise and Categorise Articles

Google’s Search AI is getting much more definition-heavy. The latest update to the Search Generative Experience will feature AI summaries of long articles. Search will also categorize the articles for users’ quick-viewing pleasure, though the company will have to contend with some publishers’ precious paywalled pages.

In a Tuesday blog post, VP of product management for Search, Rany Ng, said the latest SGE update will actively work while browsing on other web pages. Those who enable the “SGE while browsing” feature will be able to click the “G” icon at the top of their browser app to access AI while on a webpage. Users can then generate a few bullet points describing the page’s content. Clicking on any of those bullet points will take them to a specific part of the page’s text.

The company demonstrated this feature on a National Parks Service page explaining the history of Route 66. The Search AI broke the article into sections such as “how far does Route 66 stretch” and “what year did they start Route 66.” Clicking on each of those “explore” panels takes users to a different part of the article. The feature is now available on iOS and Android in the Google app and should arrive on Chrome on desktop in the coming days.

“We think these capabilities can be particularly helpful when you’re learning something new or complex, but they can also come in handy for other tasks like finding a new recipe or researching a big purchase,” Ng said.

The Google Search VP stressed that the AI won’t provide key points on articles that are behind a paywall, though publishers are forced to designate to Google which pages are free or behind a paywall. The company has the delicate task of making friends with publishers while gobbling up all their content for the purpose of training their AI. Some publishers aren’t very happy with the current state of affairs. The New York Times changed its terms of service to bar any company from training AI on its articles.

Although the Search AI outside of Google Search is the most dramatic update, the more impressive content may be from the new expanded definitions. The next SGE upgrade will show some definitions for certain buzzwords within the Search AI text. The company showed an example of this text from the question “what is the most common element on the periodic table.” When a user hovers over text such as “periodic table” or “proton,” a small blurb pops up offering a definition from Wikipedia, or likely from other sites the AI already pulled from.

I hope I’m not the only other nerd who first thought of Obsidian’s more-recent CRPGs for the definition blurbs inside text.

On paper, the new feature sounds like one of my favorite functions in some of Obsidian’s more recent isometric RPGs. In games like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity, there’s a lot of mystical nomenclature and esoteric lore being thrown around in descriptions and dialogue, but players can hover over specific words to read a small blurb about those terms.

It’s also nice that the text for these blurbs isn’t AI-generated, and instead helps link more sources for the information outside the top three “snapshots” given prominent placement to the right of generated text. AI-generated text is liable to be wrong, and Google’s is no exception. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where users can actively fact-check the AI-generated content in real-time through these blurbs.

Of course, the irony is that the AI is already trained on that data it’s citing in Wikipedia and those other sites. The company has said it plans to scrape the entirety of the internet—which would necessarily include any published or copyrighted content—for training its AI. The company has suggested that publishers would need code in restrictions on their sites to designate when they don’t want AI to scrape their data.

The Search AI has gone through constant changes since its release earlier this year, and more recently the AI has started adding more links in-line with AI-generated responses. This came after Google’s search liaison Danny Sullivan noted the AI sometimes incorrectly assumes it’s creating original content akin to a poem, rather than generating a fully cited blurb about a topic.

Google is still going back and forth about how much user content it’s willing to use to generate its AI responses. Other recent additions to the SGE included the ability to praise or critique restaurants, shops, or other destinations by generalising from user reviews.

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