Head of Google Search: AI mistakes won’t prevent progress

Google will continue developing AI features despite ongoing and potential issues, according to Liz Reid, the company’s head of Search.

What it means. When it comes to AI in Search, Google will continue to take thoughtful risks, test extensively and quickly respond to any problems, Reid said during an all-hands meeting last week, CNBC reported.

Why we care. Google is evolving from a classic search engine to an answer engine. This transition won’t be quick or easy. There’s a lot we still don’t know about how AI Overviews will impact our search strategies and performance.

What Google is saying. Here’s some of what Reid said at the meeting:

“It is important that we don’t hold back features just because there might be occasional problems, but more as we find the problems, we address them.

“I don’t think we should take away from this that we shouldn’t take risks. We should take them thoughtfully. We should act with urgency. When we find new problems, we should do the extensive testing but we won’t always find everything and that just means that we respond.

“People actually created templates on how to get social engagement by making fake AI Overviews so that’s an additional thing we’re thinking about.

“No matter how much red teaming we do, we will need to do more.

“We don’t just have to understand the quality of the site or the page, we have to understand each passage of a page.

“Anytime you see problems, they can be small, they can be big. Please file them.”

AI issues. The AI-generated answers that appeared in Google’s newly launched AI Overviews were criticized for giving dangerous and wrong answers – including running with scissors, cooking with glue, eating rocks and drinking urine.

Google said some of the AI Overview screenshots were faked while others were due to data voids (a.k.a., information gaps). The company said it “found a content policy violation on less than one in every 7 million unique queries on which AI Overviews appeared.”