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Editorial: Google’s A.I. Overview

A helpful new tool or just another company attempting A.I.
Google announces and features Overview at Google I/O 2023. Photo courtesy of Google.

Over the weekend while I was cramming two weeks worth of health assignments into one night, I stumbled upon Google’s new A.I. Overview feature. While it doesn’t work for every question entered, it wasn’t until I asked “What is an infection transferred from an animal to a human called?” that I first witnessed lines of yellow run across my screen and a well supported paragraph answering the question appeared. Although I did not immediately register what this was, I quickly realized that it was an A.I. tool automatically generated by the search engine. With the stigma around A.I. and my lack of trust or knowledge of this feature, my first instinct was to ignore this answer and scroll down to the sites below it, but something caught my eye. A feature I hadn’t seen on any other A.I., was a list of the websites that the information had been pulled from. Of course, with any piece of new technology, I approached it apprehensively and dove into some research.

Google’s “A New Way to Search with Generative AI: An overview of SGE” provides a comprehensive review of the program, how it works, and what its intended purpose is. “When appropriate, SGE will show an AI-powered snapshot to help people quickly get an overview on a topic, with factors to consider and helpful information,” explains the guide written by Srinivasan Venkatachary. The feature essentially pulls information from sites that are frequently used by users who search similar questions. Using my initial question mentioned earlier, the answer generated pulled from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which means these are sites that are frequented by people researching animal to human diseases. Pulling information from these sources, the feature was able to give me a quick and correct answer (one I have vetted for sake of this article and apprehension around interesting my health grade in a program that is only a few weeks old), as well as a bulleted list of frequently asked questions about the disease I was looking up (which is zoonoses for anyone who cares).

Daniel Højris Bæk, with, explains that although this new feature puts Google’s use of A.I. on the forefront of their search engine, the company has been using A.I. technology since 2015. Their translation, image search, and pattern recognition features are all backed by artificial intelligence.

This new helping hand seems like the best way for users to save time reading over multiple sources and offers up a well wrapped summary of the answer, tied neatly in a bow with a gift tag. With almost every A.I. engine currently available, this recently added component is still in its testing stages. The program has its limitations; not only does it not work for every question imputed, users are required to be over 13, search through a registered personal google account (work and school accounts are not permitted to use this feature), and may only ask questions in English. Overview is also only available through laptop or Android search, Apple and other cell phone brands have yet to receive this feature.

I think that Overview just makes googling that much easier, but I advise everyone who intentionally uses it or stumbles upon it to approach its answers with caution. On multiple occasions the only source it listed was Wikipedia or some other unreliable source, to which I had to Google the “old fashion” way. Like with any information received, always fact and source check. With this new, unavoidable, device it’s only a matter of time until it becomes a commonplace tool that comes with using Google.

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