Google is putting AI in basically everything, including search

 Google's classic search engine is getting an AI makeover.

For over two decades, the search site has been defined by a plain search bar and a list of results.

At its 2023 Google I/O event on Wednesday, the tech giant unveiled an AI-driven search engine with the overall goal of making "search smarter and searching simpler."

The search engine will now let users craft prompts as if they're asking questions more naturally. On top of the more familiar list of search results, there will be an AI-generated summary response answering users' questions.

Instead of searching for something generic like "best national parks," for example, a user can type an inquiry as if they are asking a knowledgeable friend about which national park is best to visit with small children and a dog, Google's Cathy Edwards said at the event.

"What's better for a family with kids under 3 and a dog, bryce canyon or arches?" the user asked the search engine.

"Although this is a question that you have, you probably wouldn't ask it in this way today," said Edwards. "You'd break it down into smaller ones, sift through the information, and then piece things together yourself — now, search does the heavy lifting for you." 

Edwards described the summary response that the new Google generates as an "AI-powered snapshot that quickly gives you the lay of the land on a topic."

The summary will also include links to sources, and users can choose to look at a different presentation format that breaks down the sources behind the summary, Edwards said. 

The AI-generated summary also encourages interaction by offering suggested questions to click on, evoking the experience of an AI chatbot. 

The AI-driven customized results may also reshape how consumers shop online.

For instance, a query asked during the demo about the right bike for daily travel produces not just links to bikes, along with prices and reviews, but also advice about the styles of bikes suited for specific tasks, and some of the features the right bikes need to have.

Edwards emphasized the importance of regular search results still appearing after the AI-generated summarysaying it still directs users to publish original content, which she described as part of a "thriving web."

"We know that people will always value the input of other people," she said. 

Google is now letting interested users test out the new features through its Search Labs portal, saying that takers would have a "limited time" to do so. 

Google has jumped into the fray of generative AI chatbots since it unveiled Bard earlier this year, after OpenAI's ChatGPT bot took consumers by storm, and prompted other companies to tout their own interactive bots or link up with OpenAI.

Back in February, Microsoft unveiled its own AI-driven Bing search engine, powered by OpenAI technology. Bing's search engine chatbot similarly fields queries, and volleys with conversational responses and search results, though users did note in its early days that it seemed to display a bit of a dark personality streak.

 The financial report you read, the apparel marketing you see, and the chat assistant you engage in may soon reflect a common origin: artificial intelligence from Google.

The cloud division inside Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) is lining up customers to put its newest technology to the test, so-called generative AI that produces human-like prose or other content from past data.

Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE), Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N), and a unit of Victoria's Secret & Co (VSCO.N) are among the companies giving Google's tools a try, the company told Reuters for its I/O conference on Wednesday in Mountain View, California.

Customers are applying Google's technology in ways both expected, such as a customer-service chatbot for Uber, and unusual, including AI to handle drive-thru orders at a Wendy's Co (WEN.O) fast-food restaurant in Ohio.

Their interest comes at a critical moment for Google. Its cloud division posted its first-ever operating profit last quarter, and the AI technology that Google pioneered may help it narrow the gap with bigger players Inc (AMZN.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).

Alphabet announced still more updates on Wednesday to draw business customers, such as a computer programming assistant called Duet AI for Google Cloud, with a model it named Codey.

At the same time, clients are previewing its AI services on a free basis, Google said. Its rivals are marketing competing products, too, to companies reluctant to leave them. And Google is contending with a nascent challenge to its search business from Microsoft and partner OpenAI, which built the ChatGPT phenom.

In an interview with Reuters, Google Cloud's CEO. Thomas Kurian, said Alphabet's AI models were drawing interest from customers new and old, among them clients of its competitors.

"They want our access to our models," he said. Then "they start a relationship."

One of the companies deepening its work with Google while still relying on Microsoft for productivity tools is Deutsche Bank. Bernd Leukert, its chief technology, data, and innovation officer, said the bank is targeting a range of tasks to automate with the help of Google's engineers and its so-called large language models.

Deutsche Bank wants this AI to lower costs in call centers where it needed temporary personnel for peak periods and workers to handle menial tasks, he said in an interview. And it is exploring if Google's AI can craft research drawing from economic data, market reports, and other content, to give the bank's customers and staff, said Leukert.

"The faster you can consume this huge amount of external information, condense it and draw the conclusion out of it, the better it is," he said. Asked about errors by AI, Leukert said research analysts would have to validate and edit material pre-publication, as the bank would take "a very conservative approach."

Deutsche Bank will decide by October which of these projects are mature enough to move forward, he said.

Other companies using the technology include Adore Me, Victoria's Secret unit drafting ad copy with AI in Google Docs, Kurian said. The Wendy's pilot beginning in June has helped Google stress-test its systems as well.

"You've heard about these generative models hallucinating, right?" he said, referring to how they can spout inaccurate information. At Wendy's, "You don't want the model to recommend a product that may not exist."

Alphabet Inc's Google(GOOGL.O) on Wednesday demonstrated an updated core search product that embeds more AI in its answers as the company looks to banish doubts that it is losing ground to Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) OpenAI-powered Bing search.

Google already has a Bard chatbot that competes with ChatGPT, the chatbot from OpenAI that has generated huge excitement among users with its humanlike responses.


The company says that traditional Google search should still be used for finding and seeking information, such as locating something to purchase.

Bard is a chatbot with a persona that can hold humanlike conversations, and is intended to be used for creative collaboration, for instance, to generate software code or write a caption for a photo.


With the enhanced search termed the Search Generative Experience, Google's home page still looks and acts like its familiar search bar.

The difference is in the answers: if the new Google detects that generative AI can be used to answer a query, the top of the results page will show the AI-generated response. The traditional links to the Web will remain below.

For example, a search for "weather San Francisco" will as usual point a user to an eight-day forecast, while a query asking what outfit to wear in the California city prompts a lengthy response generated by AI, according to a demonstration for Reuters earlier this week.

"You should bring layers, including a short-sleeved shirt and a light sweater or jacket for the day," the result stated, including links to websites where it gleaned such advice.

Users will also be able to enter a brand-new "conversational mode," which similar to Bard and ChatGPT remembers the user's prior questions so users can ask follow-ups more easily.

However, the company points out that conversational mode is not designed to be a chatbot with a personality; it is intended only to help hone search results. For example, its responses will never contain the "I" phrase, unlike Bard and ChatGPT.


Not yet. U.S. consumers will gain access to the Search Generative Experience in the coming weeks via a wait list, a trial phase during which Google will monitor the quality, speed, and cost of search results, the company said.


The company said on Wednesday that Bard is now available with no wait list in 180 countries and territories, and plans to expand its support to 40 languages.

Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google is rolling out more artificial intelligence for its core search product, hoping to create some of the same consumer excitement generated by Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) update to rival search engine Bing in recent months.

At its annual I/O conference in Mountain View, California, on Wednesday, Google offered a new version of its namesake engine. Called the Search Generative Experience, the revamped Google can craft responses to open-ended queries while retaining its recognizable list of links to the Web.

"We are reimagining all of our core products, including search," Sundar Pichai, Alphabet's CEO, said after he took the stage at the event.

He said Google is integrating generative AI into search as well as products such as Gmail, which can create draft messages, and Google Photos, which can make changes to images like centering figures and coloring in empty space.

Alphabet's shares rose 4% on Wednesday. They are up 26% so far this year, compared with the 8% rise in the S&P 500 index in the same time frame.

U.S. consumers will gain access to the Search Generative Experience in the coming weeks via a wait list, a trial phase during which Google will monitor the quality, speed, and cost of search results, Vice President Cathy Edwards said in an interview.

Google’s foray into what is known as generative AI comes after the startup OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, the darling chatbot of Silicon Valley that launched a furious funding race among would-be competitors. Generative AI can, using past data, create brand new content like fully formed text, images and software code.

OpenAI, backed by billions of dollars from Microsoft and now integrated into Bing search, has become for many the default version of generative AI, helping users spin up term papers, contracts, travel itineraries, even entire novels.

For years the top portal to the internet, Google has found its own perch in question since rivals began exploiting the technology. At stake is Google’s slice of the gigantic online advertising pie that the research firm MAGNA estimated at $286 billion this year.

"AI can provide insight," Edwards said. "But what fundamentally people want at the end of the day is to be connected to information from real people and organizations, knowing, for example, that this health information comes from the WHO," or the World Health Organization.

Addressing how AI can spout incorrect information, Edwards said the company prioritized accuracy and citing trusted sources.

Google will also mark up images it generates with AI and make it easier for people to vet a picture's authenticity.

"Google's vision makes a strong case that search is evolving, not dissolving and that Google is here to stay," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Kingsley Crane.


With the embedded AI, Google still looks and acts like its familiar empty search bar.

But while a search for "weather San Francisco" will as usual point a user to an eight-day forecast, a query asking what outfit to wear in the California city prompts a lengthy response generated by AI, according to a demonstration for Reuters earlier this week.

A challenge of drawing on such AI, known as large language models, is the high expense. Edwards said, "We and others are working on a variety of different ways to bring down the cost over time."

Ads will remain key, Edwards said. "We only get paid when there's a click."


Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital Advisors, said, "The company is showing a willingness and ability to reinvent and disrupt itself, which I feel will be favorably received by investors."

In recent years Google's rivals have taken its research breakthroughs and run with them in products, outpacing their inventor.

ChatGPT came to light after an AI system Google revealed in 2017. The speed at which the chatbot grew - faster than any consumer application in history - encouraged the often deliberative Google to prod staff to hurry along with projects.

In February Google announced its competing chatbot called Bard. A promotional video that month that showed Bard answering a question incorrectly propelled a stock slide shaving $100 billion off Google's market value.

Now, Bard will be multimodal like OpenAI's GPT-4, the company said on Wednesday, and it will make the chatbot accessible to people in more than 180 countries and territories.

That means customers will be able to prompt Bard with images, not just text - for instance asking the chatbot to write a caption to a picture they hand it, it said.

Behind Bard also is a more powerful AI model Google announced called PaLM 2, which it said could solve tougher problems. One of its PaLM 2 models is lightweight enough to work on smartphones, Pichai also said.

In more news for I/O, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told Reuters the division is lining up customers to put its newest technology to the test, among them Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) and Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N).

As well, Google released a new foldable Pixel smartphone that lets consumers use the company's AI. To start the phone will be priced at $1799 and come with a free Pixel Watch. Google also unveiled a $499 phone called the Pixel 7A, available for order starting Wednesday.

Today, Google executives took to the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California to talk about the company’s latest advancements in artificial intelligence, Android, and Pixel hardware. If you didn’t have it in you to sit through the two-hour live-streamed event (we feel you), here are the most interesting announcements and debuts Google made at I/O 2023.

Everything, Everywhere, AI At Once

Google I/O AI announcement
Screenshot: Google

Today, Google wanted the world to know it’s definitely not resting on its AI laurels, with over an hour of AI-related announcements that included everything from its latest large language model (called PaLM 2) to public availability for its Bard AI in more than 180 countries in English, Korean, and Japanese (as well as support for 40 additional languages coming soon), to improved AI functionality in many of its user-facing products like Gmail, Maps, and even Google Search. 

The First Folding Pixel Phone and a New Tablet

Google I/O Pixel Fold
Screenshot: Google

Although the company teased some of the new additions to its Pixel line over a year ago, today’s Google event officially revealed all the details for its Pixel Tablet, which doubles as a home hub device when docked to a wireless charging base with a speaker. There was also the Pixel 7a smartphone, which looks it can outperform competing smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy A54. The Pixel Fold took up most of the demo, being the latest smartphone that cleverly transforms into a larger tablet-sized device thanks to the magic of flexible OLED screens. 

Wear OS 4 Promises Better Battery Life

Google I/O Wear OS
Screenshot: Google

Although the rollout of Wear OS 3 has been a slow one over the past two years, Google clearly doesn’t want its mobile OS for wearables to once again fall into disrepair and neglect. Today, Google revealed that Wear OS 4 would be available as a developer preview today, with a larger rollout coming to actual devices later this year.

Some of the most anticipated features of the next version of Wear OS include better battery life for wearables like the Pixel Watch that struggle to get through the day, as well as the ability to back up a configured Wear OS device to the cloud and then restore it to a reset, repaired, or even a replaced smartwatch without having to start the setup process from scratch again. Developers will have better tools for designing custom watch faces that don’t contribute to Wear OS’ battery life woes, while third-party apps like WhatsApp will soon be coming to Wear OS devices.

Google is also promising more of its own services will be coming to wearables through Wear OS 4, including the ability to respond to emails from Gmail from a watch, more robust calendar functionality, including RSVP’ing to invites without having to reach for a smartphone, and further integration with Google Home, allowing users to control their smart home accessories like lights right from their wrists.

Google’s Find My Device Platform Now Enlists the Help of Billions of Other Devices

Google I/O Find My
Screenshot: Google

What set Apple’s AirTags apart from the competition (and raised serious concerns about stalking and privacy) was that it took advantage of the millions of iPhones, iPads, and even MacBooks in use around the world to keep tabs on, and report the location of, the tiny coin-sized tags. Google’s Find My Device platform previously only worked with devices that had their own location tracking abilities (GPS hardware) but at I/O 2023 today, the company revealed that the platform will work more like Apple’s does later this Summer. It’ll harness “over a billion Android devices across the world to help you locate your missing belongings like headphones, tracker tags, or even your phone via Bluetooth proximity.”

In order to head off the same concerns raised over AirTags when they launched, last week Google announced it had partnered with Apple to put tools in place to minimize the risk of stalking using tracking networks and devices, including alerts through Android for unknown tracker devices nearby. Today, it also emphasized that privacy and security are a top priority for its upgraded Find My Device network, assuring users that “location data crowdsourced from the network is end-to-end encrypted” so that not even Google can access and use the data for other purposes.

What appears to set Google’s Find My Device platform apart from Apple’s is that it’s not only limited to Google’s own hardware. Bluetooth tracking devices from companies like Tile, Chipolo, and Pebblebee will work with it, and headphone models from Sony and JBL will soon be compatible as well. The upgrades could give Apple some stiff competition in this space, as Android devices far outnumber the hardware Apple has out in the wild, potentially leading to improved accuracy and a wider reach.

Project Starline Gets Smaller and Smarter

Image for article titled Everything Announced at Google I/O 2023
Image: Google

When Google first debuted its experimental Project Starline two years ago, it looked like the classic photo booths kids would crowd into at shopping malls. But instead of spitting out a strip of black and white photos, the Project Starline prototype booth lets users video chat with another person who felt like were sitting right across from them, thanks to clever use of depth cameras, hyper-realistic 3D models, and a light field display that created the illusion of depth.

In 2021, we didn’t know if Project Starline would ever see the light of day, or if it was a technology that Google would eventually abandon. Apparently, it’s not only alive and well, but the technology behind Project Starline has been streamlined so it has a smaller footprint that can be installed in conference rooms around the world. It still relies on a fairly large light field display, but new AI techniques have allowed depth sensors to be replaced with “a few standard cameras to produce higher quality, lifelike 3D images.” The new design has also been tested by companies like T-Mobile, WeWork, and Salesforce, which means that in a few more years, there’s the potential it could not only show up in offices but eventually be turned into a product available to consumers.

Spotting Deepfakes and Making the Internet Safer

Gif: Google

Although it’s probably not going to change the mind of that one uncle who’s convinced the moon landing was faked, today Google announced a new tool that can provide more information about an image’s provenance, including when it first showed up in Google Search and where it’s been published or referenced. The idea is to provide additional context that can help users determine if an image is genuine, if it’s been digitally manipulated or AI-generated, or if it’s a complete fake. Google also announced improvements to its Safe Browsing API to help identify dangerous sites sooner and expanded availability for tools allowing Google users to search for their Gmail ID to see if it’s being shared on the dark web.

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