Published in AI

Google infuses AI into search engine

by on16 May 2024

Will finally stop the presses

Search engine outfit Google announced that it will infuse its ubiquitous search engine with its powerful artificial intelligence model, Gemini. Drawing on the rapidly advancing technology, Gemini will directly answer user queries at the top of the results pages.

The change means that users will soon no longer have to click on the links displayed in search results to find the information they seek; instead, they will get a summarised version of the content.

On its surface, that might sound convenient. Still, for news publishers — many already struggling with steep traffic declines — the revamped search experience will likely cause an even further decrease in audience, potentially starving them of readers and revenue.

“Google will take care of the legwork,” executives said. But a lot of that legwork comes in the form of human-written articles and expertise published across the internet on blogs and media outlets, all built on a foundation of advertising support.

News/Media Alliance CEO chief executive Danielle Coffey said that it will be catastrophic to publishers and make it impossible to click through so that we can monetise content.

Coffey, whose organisation represents more than 2,000 news publishers and has taken an aggressive posture toward A.I. developers’ use of journalism, added: “The little traffic we get today will be further diminished, and with a dominant search engine that’s cementing its market power, we once again must adhere to their terms. This time, we are dealing with a product that directly competes with our content, using our content to fuel it. This is a perverse twist on ‘innovation.’”

The announcement from Google, which newsrooms had expected and expressed worry over in both public and private forums in recent months, is poised to batter further an industry that has been dealt a series of brutal blows — much of it at the hands of Big Tech — over the last several years. It also comes as OpenAI reportedly readies to launch its A.I.-powered search engine.

Some newsrooms have chosen to cautiously partner with technology giants, striking deals with OpenAI to license their deep content archives. Others have taken a much different path, with The New York Times filing a scorched Earth lawsuit against the ChatGPT creator.

While publishers once worked together with Big Tech companies, their relationships have soured tremendously in recent years. Mark Zuckerberg most publicly turned his back on the news industry, deprioritising news articles on his platforms and shutting off other initiatives his company once championed.

Google maintained a better relationship with publishers but also faced sharp criticism. Most recently, it drew scorn after temporarily blocking some California news outlets from search results in response to a bill that would force it to pay publishers.

Predicting the panic that its announcement would stir, Google argued that the A.I. changes would benefit news companies. Google told CNN it is showing more links with its AI Overviews feature and that improving the search product will allow the company to send more traffic to web publishers.

“We see that the links included in AI Overviews get more clicks than if the page had appeared as a traditional web listing for that query,” Google said in its announcement. “As we expand this experience, we’ll focus on sending valuable traffic to publishers and creators.”


Last modified on 16 May 2024
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