Google plans to demolish the journalism industry by unveiling its new AI-powered search interface, dubbed ‘Search Generative Experience’ or SGE for short.
Remember back in 2018, when Google removed “don’t be evil” from its code of conduct?
It’s been living up to that removal lately. At its annual I/O in San Francisco this week, the search giant finally lifted the lid on its vision for AI-integrated search — and that vision, apparently, involves cutting digital publishers off at the knees.
Google’s new AI-powered search interface, dubbed “Search Generative Experience,” or SGE for short, involves a feature called “AI Snapshot.” Basically, it’s an enormous top-of-the-page summarization feature. Ask, for example, “why is sourdough bread still so popular?” — one of the examples that Google used in their presentation — and, before you get to the blue links that we’re all familiar with, Google will provide you with a large language model (LLM) -generated summary. Or, we guess, snapshot.
“Google’s normal search results load almost immediately,” The Verge’s David Pierce explains. “Above them, a rectangular orange section pulses and glows and shows the phrase ‘Generative AI is experimental.’ A few seconds later, the glowing is replaced by an AI-generated summary: a few paragraphs detailing how good sourdough tastes, the upsides of its prebiotic abilities, and more.”
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“To the right,” he adds, “there are three links to sites with information that Reid says ‘corroborates’ what’s in the summary.”
As it goes without saying, this format of search, where Google uses AI tech to regurgitate the internet back to users, is wildly different from how the search-facilitated internet works today. Right now, if you Google that same query — “why is sourdough bread still so popular?” — you’d be met with a more familiar scene: a featured excerpt from whichever website won the SEO race (in this case, that website was British Baker), followed by that series of blue links.
At first glance, the change might seem relatively benign. Often, all folks surfing the web want is a quick-hit summary or snippet of something anyway.
But it’s not unfair to say that Google, which in April, according to data from SimilarWeb, hosted roughly 91 percent of all search traffic, is somewhat synonymous with, well, the internet. And the internet isn’t just some ethereal, predetermined thing, as natural water or air. The internet is a marketplace, and Google is its kingmaker.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called for AI content to be labeled and regulated.