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

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 summarize 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 in the US for everyone in the US. 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, which 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.

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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, Google chose not to address the increasing regularity with which garbage and AI spam is dominating Search results, which speaks to a decaying of the core product at the same time 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 is in the process of changing in profound and far-reaching ways.

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