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Google's web link is broken

Google's web link is broken

 


Speaking at Google I/O on Tuesday morning, Sundar Pichai said the rise of generative artificial intelligence will create new opportunities for creators, developers, startups, and everyone.

Two hours later, as the sun rose over the Shoreline Amphitheater, the audience in its cheap seats scurried to find what little shade there was, but the opportunity it afforded was not entirely clear. was. Other than TikTok DJ Marc Rebillet, who served as the opening act, no other creators, developers, or startups took to the stage. Instead, several celebrities appeared in short videos, including Wyclef Jean getting excited about his AI music tools and Donald Glover experimenting with his AI filmmaking. An obvious opportunity was to use Google's services, which cover a dizzying array of tasks, from homework to shopping to moving to celebrating anniversaries.

Many of these products promise real improvements in your daily life. A tool that automatically searches and organizes emailed receipts while creating expense spreadsheets. One asks questions in natural language about images stored in Google Photos. The second is to create lively, interactive tutoring sessions from materials uploaded to NotebookLM.

But when it comes to the company's core search engine, the picture of progress looks much more murky. Like its much smaller rivals, Google's idea for the future of search is to provide more answers within its walled gardens, with many visits to individual web pages once more What we needed was to condense the project into a single answer provided within Google itself.

Google announced today that AI-powered search results it calls “Search Generative Experience” will soon be available to all users in the United States. By the end of 2024, it will appear at the top of search results for 1 billion users.

As I pointed out when I wrote about new, more extractive search engines from companies like Arc and Brave, Google's move to answer more questions on its search engine results pages is simply a result of long-standing practice. It's just a continuation of. But whereas the company once limited itself to gathering low-hanging fruit around Super Bowl times, executives on Tuesday said it could one day host anniversary dinners, cross-country moves, and entire international trips. demonstrated a generative AI tool for planning. . A quarter of a century after its founding, the company that once proudly served as a gateway to the web, fed by traffic and ad revenue, has begun abstracting it all into inputs for its large language models. I did.

This new approach is elegantly expressed in the slogan, “Let Google do Google,” which appeared several times during Tuesday's keynote. This is a phrase that indicates that browsing the web, a task once considered interesting enough that it was given the nickname surfing as a chore, is a task better left to bots. .

People's time is valuable, right? Liz Reid, the company's head of search, told Wired's Lauren Good ahead of the event that they are tackling a difficult problem. If there is an opportunity to use technology to help people answer questions and take even more work out of it, wouldn't we want to pursue it?

That's a fair question, and not an entirely new question. When I started covering Google 10 years ago, Google often talked about the evolution of search akin to the computers in Star Trek: omnipresent, omniscient digital assistants. Star Trek's computers are notable for their ability to answer questions more or less instantly. Also, if the information your computer provides comes from something like the World Wide Web, you won't see that information. Whatever workers financed the production of the knowledge it refers to are not mentioned, and whatever sources it relies on are discredited.

It is this vision of the future that Tuesday's announcement brings us even closer together. And for many people who, since 1998, have come to rely on Google for incomplete or partial answers to their questions and funneling traffic to them, this is understandably a concern.

Web publishers are bracing for carnage as Google adds AI answers, read the exact headline in Monday's Washington Post. Previously, publishers could rely on large amounts of traffic from blue links that appeared below many queries. But what the company now calls AI summaries often obscure these links, requiring users to click to view them, or simply abstracting them into automatically generated summaries. It's just that. Analysts who studied the company's early experiments with SGE say it would be a disaster.

This is Gerrit de Vink and Kat Zakrzewski.

Technology research firm Gartner predicts that search engine traffic to the web will decline by 25 percent by 2026. Ross Hudgens, CEO of search engine optimization consultancy Siege Media, said he expects hits of at least 10 to 20 percent, and for some publishers even more. Raptive, which provides digital media, audience and advertising services for about 5,000 of his websites, including Easy Family Recipes, said the search changes cost creators about $2 billion in losses on some of his websites. We estimate that this may occur. Up to two-thirds of your traffic will be lost. Raptive arrived at this number by analyzing thousands of keywords coming into his network and doing side-by-side comparisons of his traditional Google search and his pilot version of Google SGE.

Google has many reasons to tread carefully here. Google serves ads on many web pages that are losing all their traffic and could lose it if traffic to those pages ceases. But the company appears to be betting that it can weather the transition and ease its difficulties by tapping into many other revenue streams, as it continues to control a large portion of the digital advertising market.

In his public comments, Pichai emphasized the power of AI-enhanced search and sought to downplay the potential disruption to the ecosystem that Google currently supports. He told CNBC's Diade Botha that he doesn't think the AI ​​overview will be disruptive to the company's business or publishers.

In general, Pichai said they have seen an increase in usage across the board and have been able to drive more traffic to the ecosystem year-over-year. We prioritize approaches that also generate traffic. So we're working hard on that.

The company has many levers at its disposal here. You can choose when to see the AI ​​summary and when not to see it. Changes may be temporarily reversed if outbound traffic drops sharply and attracts the attention of regulators or other victims.

Still, as the first day of I/O ended, it was hard to escape the feeling that the web as we know it was entering some kind of controlled decline. Over the past 25 years, Google has expanded itself into different parts of the web. Therefore, Google has become synonymous with Google. And now that LLM promises to help users understand everything the web contains in real time, Google finally has what it needs to get the job done. It's about replacing the web with your company in many important ways.

It remains to be seen how important this is to the majority of people whose livelihoods do not directly depend on web traffic. I suspect that billions of people don't care about the provenance of their information, as long as it's accurate enough, and are happy to receive answers to complex queries directly on the search results page. .

But for anyone who has ever relied on web search in any way to get their business discovered, their blog posts read, or their journalism funded, AI search Its appearance is a bad omen for the future. Now that Google is doing Google searches for you, anyone who has benefited from humans doing Google searches will need to come up with a plan B soon.

Google I/O

I feel like the impact of Web I/O this year has been harsh, but the company had a lot of new features, models, and experiments to discuss.

Ask Photos is an upcoming feature in Google Photos that allows users to find specific images by talking to a chatbot in natural language. (Cherlynn Low / Engadget) Gmail is adding features that will allow users to search through their email backlog and quickly summarize and reply to messages. (Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica) The new model Gemini 1.5 Flash is lighter and cheaper than the Pro version, but still optimized for speed and efficiency. (Pranav Dixit / Engadget) The smallest model, Gemini Nano, will integrate directly into the Chrome desktop client starting in Chrome 126. It should be useful for tasks like autofill. (Frederic Lardinois/TechCrunch) His Gemini on Android, which replaces Google Assistant, will be more tightly integrated with Gmail, Google Messages and YouTube. (Sarah Perez/TechCrunch) Gemini's context window is now 2 million tokens in private with his preview, allowing users to analyze much longer documents, codebases, videos, and audio recordings. Paid users currently have access to his 1 million tokens window, the most of any published model. (Kyle Wiggers / TechCrunch) The newly upgraded SynthID watermarking system now marks AI-generated videos and text. I'm glad to see the company investing in this. (Umar Shakir/The Verge) The new His Gems feature will allow users to create customized versions of their Gemini assistants with different personalities. Perhaps Google will follow in her direction as well. (Umar Shakir / The Verge) Veo, an AI video generator, and Imagen 3, an advanced image generator, are Google's latest competitors to OpenAI's Sora and DALL-E 3. (Devindra Hardawar / Engadget) A new camera-based Project Astra AI agent helps people find noisy, misplaced, or misplaced objects. The Astra demo was one of her highlights of the keynote. (Cherlynn Low/Engadget) Google's latest chip, Trillium, is nearly five times faster than previous versions and will significantly improve AI data center performance, he says. (Max A. Cherney / Reuters) Google is updating its “circle to search” feature and will soon let you use your camera to solve more complex math problems. (Julian Chokkattu / WIRED) Good post on industry governance.

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Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.platformer.news/google-io-ai-search-sundar-pichai/

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