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Google just beefed up Search with a ton of new AI features

Published May 14th, 2024 1:51PM EDT
Google Search got AI Overviews at I/O 2024.
Image: Google Inc.

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Starting today, Google Search is going to feel a lot less like the search engine that you currently know and use, and more like the kinds of AI-centric platforms that are exploding around the web.

Google Search head Liz Reid announced today at Google I/O that tons of new AI features are coming to Google’s lucrative search engine, including AI Overviews — Google-produced summaries of your search queries, de-emphasizing the classic list of blue links. These AI Overviews are rolling out in the US starting today, and coming to more than 1 billion people by year’s end.

What this means, specifically, is that Google will start automatically answering certain search queries for everyone in the US, and this process will begin over the coming days. 

Google describes this as Search “doing the Googling for you.” At the same time, this is also the beginning of a nightmare scenario for publishers, who will find their own links that Google Search surfaces pushed farther down the results page. If Google answers a query automatically, in other words, there would presumably be no need to scroll down the page and click on a publisher’s link.

This has come as Google Search’s ongoing updates have proven increasingly devastating for publishers, while rewarding sites that don’t need the help from Google but get it anyway (Reddit, Quora, and Forbes). On a related note regarding today’s event, Google chose not to address the increasing regularity with which garbage and AI spam is dominating Search results — a phenomenon that speaks to a decaying of the core product at the same time as Google wants to bring it into a new AI era.

Among other AI features coming to Google Search, meanwhile, Google today also discussed the ability to circle an item you’d like Google to search, as well as the ability for Google Search to break your bigger question down into parts and figure out which problems to solve and in what order. Suffice it to say: One of Google’s oldest and most important products is in the process of changing in profound and far-reaching ways.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.