Tech

Viral Google AI Search Errors Spark Debate Among Tech-Savvy Users

  • May 27, 2024
  • 2 min read
Viral Google AI Search Errors Spark Debate Among Tech-Savvy Users

Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) search feature is under fire for providing bizarre and inaccurate answers. The experimental “AI Overviews” tool has faced criticism after telling some users that “non-toxic glue” could help cheese stick to pizza better and suggesting that geologists recommend humans eat one rock per day.

These errors, widely mocked on social media, appear to be based on Reddit comments or satirical articles from The Onion. Google responded, saying these were “isolated examples” and not representative of most users’ experiences. “The vast majority of AI overviews provide high-quality information, with links to dig deeper on the web,” a Google spokesperson told the BBC.

Despite the backlash, Google insists the feature is generally working well. However, this isn’t the first time the tech giant has faced issues with its AI products. In February, Google had to pause its chatbot Gemini, criticized for its “woke” responses. Gemini’s predecessor, Bard, also had a rocky start.

Google began testing AI overviews in search results for a small group of UK users in April. The feature was rolled out to all US users in mid-May during Google’s annual developer showcase. The AI tool summarizes search results, so users don’t have to sift through multiple websites for information. Although experimental, it is expected to be widely used due to Google’s dominant market share.

According to Statcounter, Google’s search engine accounts for more than 90% of the global market. The company needs to protect and future-proof this critical service. While AI-driven search is seen as the future, it only works if users can trust it.

AI tools’ so-called hallucinations are a problem not just for Google but for other companies as well. In one baffling example, a reporter asking Google if gasoline could cook spaghetti faster was told, “no… but you can use gasoline to make a spicy spaghetti dish” and given a recipe.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after announcing a new feature for its AI-focused PCs that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity. Meanwhile, OpenAI faced criticism from Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson for using a voice similar to hers without consent.

As Google and other tech companies integrate more AI tools into their products, these issues highlight the challenges and growing pains of AI technology. The youth, heavily reliant on digital tools, are watching closely as these technologies evolve and impact their daily lives.

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Yockshard Enyendi
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