Google’s AI-powered search is now available in South Africa — and the rest of the continent.
Google this week launched AI-powered tools to its bolster its search functionality. It went live with the new “Search Generative Experiences” (SGE), which are housed in the Google Search Labs pilot environment that users can choose to opt into.
“We found that gen AI can be helpful by connecting the dots for people. People tend to search multiple queries over a few days as they make larger decisions like a major purchase or where to go on holiday,” said Wambui Kinya, GM for search in Africa. “Generative AI allows more content to be discovered by generating more links in search results.”
The launch aims to maintain Google’s dominance of the search market, especially over its main rival Microsoft, which launched AI-powered search in Bing using technology from OpenAI, along with an updated, AI-infused Edge internet browser, in March.
SGE is distinct from Google Bard, which was launched in July. While Bard’s purpose leans more towards generating creative content including images and code, SGE is about enhancing the user search experience. In developing SGE, Google had to make a trade-off between keeping its responses to hard facts and giving users a more conversational experience, said Kinya.
“The more grounded or factual the response, the less fluent the conversation will be to the user. We are leaning to a more constrained, less fluent model to start, and we’ll move to a more fluid model over time. People trust fluid models more, even when they (the models) are ‘hallucinating’,” said Kinya. Hallucinations are when generative AI models give erroneous input.
SGE is powered by Google’s second-generation Pathway Language Model (PaLM2), but there are other models supporting it in the background. “By using a variety of models across the feature set, we are able to optimise corroboration of information from other sources across the web,” said Kinya.
Once opted in, users will see AI-generated results in a section at the top of their results page with a “show more” button should they wish to expand it. Otherwise, the addition of SGE does not cause any dramatic changes to the search results interface or the way in which ads are presented on the page.
“With new generative AI capabilities in search, we’re now taking more of the work out of searching. We’re imagining a supercharged search that does the heavy lifting for you so you’ll be able to understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily,” said Kinya. — (c) 2023 NewsCentral Media