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Google Search head says AI will continue to have challenges but have to take risks



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In a recent all-hands meeting at Google, Liz Reid, the newly appointed head of search, addressed the company’s approach to integrating artificial intelligence into internet search amid growing challenges and criticism. Acknowledging the inevitability of mistakes as AI becomes more central to their operations, Reid emphasized a proactive stance, urging the company to continue innovating while remaining vigilant in addressing issues as they arise.

Reid, who assumed the role of vice president of search in March, highlighted the importance of not hesitating to release new features despite occasional setbacks. She stressed the need for thoughtful risk-taking and prompt problem-solving, encouraging both employees and users to actively participate in identifying and rectifying any shortcomings in Google’s products.

The meeting comes at a crucial juncture for Google, as it endeavors to keep pace with competitors like OpenAI and Microsoft in the rapidly expanding field of generative AI. The introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has significantly influenced consumer expectations, offering an alternative means to access information online beyond traditional search engines.

Google’s recent rollout of AI Overview, hailed by CEO Sundar Pichai as the most significant advancement in search technology in 25 years, has been marred by controversy. Initially released to a limited audience, AI Overview allows users to view summarized answers to queries directly at the top of Google search results. However, widespread reports quickly surfaced of nonsensical and inaccurate responses, including erroneous statements and bizarre recommendations.

Criticism mounted as users encountered misleading information such as the false claim that Barack Obama was America’s first Muslim president, alongside peculiar suggestions like adding glue to pizza or consuming rocks daily. Google swiftly responded to these issues, implementing over a dozen technical improvements aimed at enhancing the accuracy and reliability of AI Overview.

In a blog post addressing the backlash, Reid acknowledged the challenges, attributing some of the problematic content to user-generated submissions. Despite these setbacks, Google maintains that the vast majority of search results remain accurate, asserting that issues with AI Overview affected less than one in every 7 million unique queries. It is worth noting that Google seems to be losing ground to Bing and Perplexity in the AI race as far as Search is concerned.

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