Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Google’s AI Overviews are already off the rails


AI Overviews being shown in Google Search.Google

Google AI Overviews were announced a couple weeks ago at Google I/O, and they’ve already proven to be rather controversial. The aim to provide high-quality answers to your questions summarized from the web, but a recent X (formerly Twitter) thread suggests that it might not be pulling from the most accurate sources.

When prompting Google for an answer to the issue of “cheese not sticking to pizza,” the AI Overview reportedly claims that adding nontoxic glue to your pizza to prevent the cheese from sliding off. The exact words the AI overview gave are as follows: “You can also add about 1/8 cup of non-toxic glue to the sauce to give it more tackiness.” Where did the Google AI overview get the info as a source? It got it from an 11-year-old Reddit comment from this thread, in what was clearly a joke.

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— SG-r01 (@heavenrend) May 22, 2024

The words “cheese not sticking to pizza” generated this unexpected and funny response, and the internet is having a field day with it. The Google AI Overview response has since gone viral.

Google claims that its AI Overviews give users high-quality information and that such errors are uncommon. It has also not said anything about what may have led to such a colossal error, and so far, there are no reports of anyone actually adding glue to their pizza because Google told them to, but it’s good for a laugh.

It should be noted that we’ve seen a massive uptick in Reddit and forum posts showing up higher in Google searches. It’s also worth noting that Reddit recently signed a $60 million deal to let Google train its models on Reddit content. It’s not hard to connect the dots on how this might have happened.

The larger problem is that this isn’t a one-off incident. In another X thread by Patrick Cosmos, the Google AI Overview responded that a dog has played in the NBA. We don’t know the source for where this answer came from, but clearly AI Overviews are off to a rocky start.

These are both good reminders of how careful we need to be when going to AI engines for information. Google AI Overview started rolling out to everyone in the U.S. earlier this month, and with more countries coming soon. But with answers like this, there may be more people reaching for a way to turn it off than Google expected.

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