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Generative AI is Coming to Google Search

3 MINUTE READ | April 7, 2023

Generative AI is Coming to Google Search

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

Generative AI and new questions about its transformative potential are back in the headlines after Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared more insight into Google’s ambitious plans for capitalizing on generative AI and striking the right balance between AI innovation and user safety. In this post, we outline the takeaways from Pichai’s recent conversations with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal

Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and heightened competitive pressures have put Google in a unique position, with many analysts noting that Google appears to have “somehow fallen behind” in the race to bring consumer-grade AI to market. Now, in light of growing skepticism that generative AI may be advancing too fast, Google’s bet to prioritize safety and responsible use could seem less like a missed opportunity and more like the right move for the search giant.

  • Google is focused on “getting it right” versus being first to market: After the release of Bard was met with lukewarm reception compared to its competitors, Pichai shared that Google considers Bard an experiment and is more concerned with prioritizing safety and “getting it right” than being first to market in generative AI. “The craftsmanship that goes into delivering [a] high-quality, trusted experience [for our users] is important to us,” said Pichai on the Hard Fork podcast. While Bard was released to the public only a few days ago, Pichai reaffirmed Google’s commitment to constantly improving the underlying AI models and capabilities of the technology. 

  • Generative AI is coming to Google Search: Google is currently testing several new search products that integrate generative AI and conversational AI capabilities, according to Pichai, including versions that encourage users to ask follow-up questions to their original search query. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pichai “dismissed the notion that chatbots posed a threat to Google’s search business,” as the company plans to eventually add conversational AI features directly to its flagship search engine. For now, Bard remains separate from the traditional Google Search experience and is only accessible via waitlist, though he didn’t confirm a timeline for if or when that might change. 

  • Similar to Microsoft Co-Pilot, Google is working on AI personalization: Pichai confirmed to The New York Times that Google is working on new “safe, privacy-preserving” AI applications centered around personalized use cases, particularly for enterprise Google Workspace clients, similar to Microsoft’s Copilot. 

Throughout the interviews, Pichai reinforced the importance of responsible AI. However, he said he disagreed with some of the details found in the Open Letter by The Future of Life Institute, calling for a “pause” on AI advancements. “AI is too important an area not to regulate, and it’s also too important an area not to regulate well,” said Pichai on the Hard Fork podcast. “I’m glad these conversations are underway…[as] this is going to need a lot of debate.” 

Already, market leaders in generative AI are facing new inquiries from regulators. Most recently, Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner announced that it would be investigating OpenAI after a complaint alleged “the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information without consent.” Last week, Italy banned ChatGPT over concerns that the technology violates European privacy rules, and Germany is considering doing the same. 

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As regulators begin their investigations and formulate a comprehensive response to the new challenges and questions generated by AI advancements, Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI show no signs of slowing down, which will inevitably lead to more AI breakthroughs and new applications for this technology in the weeks and months to come.

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