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Google’s AI Overview Feature Faces Backlash Over Inaccurate Results

In this post:

  • Google’s AI Overview feature has been widely criticized for generating absurd or incorrect results for search queries.
  • Users have posted numerous cases where the AI summaries generated an illogical or wrong response to different searches.
  • The controversy around AI Overview is similar to the problems of Google’s Gemini image-generation tool.

Google’s recently launched “AI Overview” feature in Google Search has encountered significant criticism. Users have posted numerous cases where the AI summaries generated an illogical or wrong response to different searches, with no way to disable the service. 

Also read: New Chrome Extensions Aim to Improve Google Search Experience

Recent examples have included dubious advice on culinary practices and health recommendations, sparking a wave of criticism and social media mockery.

Users Expose AI Overview’s Flawed Responses

The new feature, AI Overview, was launched less than two weeks ago and was designed to give brief overviews of questions asked. For instance, a search on how to clean leather boots may provide instructions sourced from different websites. However, users have reported that the tool may provide incorrect and potentially hazardous recommendations.

Also read: Will Google’s New AI Search Hurt Website Traffic, Worrying Publishers?

Another mistake made by the AI was stating that “the United States has had one Muslim president, Barack Hussein Obama,” when asked how many Muslim presidents the U.S. has had. 

Source: Benzinga

Another piece of advice that could potentially lead to serious harm was the use of glue in the preparation of pizza sauce to keep the cheese from slipping off. This recommendation was discovered to originate from a Reddit comment, raising the possibility of the AI sourcing information from unreliable sources.  

Other outrageous recommendations included claiming that gazing at the sun is healthy and that people should incorporate rocks into their diets on a daily basis. Some of the issues that have been pointed out include simple mistakes like the wrong enumeration of fruits and wrong calculations of dates in history.

Misattribution Tarnishes Credible Sources

AI Overview has also been criticized for misquoting reliable sources with wrong information. For instance, it claimed:

“According to WebMD, scientists say that staring at the sun for 5-15 minutes, or up to 30 minutes if you have darker skin, is generally safe and provides the most health benefits.”

Such misattributions can hurt the reputations of highly esteemed establishments and are potentially dangerous to the general populace. When asked whether or not Google Search violates antitrust law, AI Overview said:

“Yes, the U.S. Justice Department and 11 states are suing Google for antitrust violations.”

Google spokesperson Meghann Farnsworth said the mistakes came from “generally very uncommon queries and aren’t representative of most people’s experiences.” She said that the mistakes were in rare queries and stated that the company is actively working to correct the violations of the content policies. Even with these assurances, the backlash raises questions about the broader issues of the increasing adoption of AI technologies.

Parallels to Gemini Image-Generation Tool Fiasco Emerge

The controversy around AI Overview is similar to the problems that Google’s Gemini image-generation tool faced soon after its launch in February due to the same misinterpretations and doubtful results. Some of the problems that were highlighted include false representations of history and sketches that are unfit for use, which led Google to stop the operation of the tool and work on enhancements.

Competition in the generative AI space is stiff due to the presence of players such as Google, Microsoft, and Open AI. It is forecasted that the market of artificial intelligence tools and agents will reach a size of more than one trillion US dollars in the next decade. This intense competition may lead to the use of immature technologies in the market due to the pressure to release new products.

Also read: Google, OpenAI, and 13 Others Pledge Not To Deploy Risky AI Models

Google is the most popular search engine in the world and this makes it very vulnerable to criticisms. Currently, the company’s search engine dominates more than 90% of the global market share, which means that its effectiveness is decisive for the satisfaction of users and the company’s business model. 

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