31 min

Learning to Live With Google's AI Overviews Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News from WIRED

    • Technology

Google has spent the past year lustily rolling out AI features across its platforms. But with each launch, it is becoming more clear that some of these so-called enhancements should have simmered a little longer. The latest update to stoke equal parts excitement and ridicule is AI Overviews, the new auto-generated summary boxes that appear at the top of some Google search results.In theory, AI Overviews are meant to answer questions and neatly summarize key information about people's search queries, offering links to the sources the summaries were pulled from and making search more immediately useful. In reality, these AI Overviews have been kinda messy. The information the summary confidently displays can be simply, and sometimes comically, wrong. Even when the AI Overview is correct, it typically only offers a slim account of the topic without the added context—or attribution—contained in the web pages it’s pulling from. The resulting criticisms have forced Google to reportedly dial back the number of search queries that trigger AI Overviews, and they are now being seen less frequently than they were at launch.This week, we talk with WIRED writers Kate Knibbs and Reece Rogers about the rollout, how Google has been managing it, and what it's like to watch our journalism get gobbled up by these hungry, hungry infobots.Show Notes:Read Kate’s story about Google trimming the frequency of its AI Overviews. Read Reece’s story about how Google’s AI Overviews copied his original work. Read Lauren’s story about the end of Google Search as we know it.Recommendations:Kate recommends Token Supremacy by Zachary Small. Reece recommends the game Balatro. Lauren recommends the poetry book Technelegy by Sasha Stiles. Mike recommends the book Neu Klang: The Definitive History of Krautrock by Christoph Dallach.Kate Knibbs can be found on social media @Knibbs (X) or @extremeknibbs (Threads/IG). Reece Rogers is @reece___rogers. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

Google has spent the past year lustily rolling out AI features across its platforms. But with each launch, it is becoming more clear that some of these so-called enhancements should have simmered a little longer. The latest update to stoke equal parts excitement and ridicule is AI Overviews, the new auto-generated summary boxes that appear at the top of some Google search results.In theory, AI Overviews are meant to answer questions and neatly summarize key information about people's search queries, offering links to the sources the summaries were pulled from and making search more immediately useful. In reality, these AI Overviews have been kinda messy. The information the summary confidently displays can be simply, and sometimes comically, wrong. Even when the AI Overview is correct, it typically only offers a slim account of the topic without the added context—or attribution—contained in the web pages it’s pulling from. The resulting criticisms have forced Google to reportedly dial back the number of search queries that trigger AI Overviews, and they are now being seen less frequently than they were at launch.This week, we talk with WIRED writers Kate Knibbs and Reece Rogers about the rollout, how Google has been managing it, and what it's like to watch our journalism get gobbled up by these hungry, hungry infobots.Show Notes:Read Kate’s story about Google trimming the frequency of its AI Overviews. Read Reece’s story about how Google’s AI Overviews copied his original work. Read Lauren’s story about the end of Google Search as we know it.Recommendations:Kate recommends Token Supremacy by Zachary Small. Reece recommends the game Balatro. Lauren recommends the poetry book Technelegy by Sasha Stiles. Mike recommends the book Neu Klang: The Definitive History of Krautrock by Christoph Dallach.Kate Knibbs can be found on social media @Knibbs (X) or @extremeknibbs (Threads/IG). Reece Rogers is @reece___rogers. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

31 min

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