September 30, 2023

on Wednesday, Google previewed what could be one of the biggest changes to the search engine in its history.

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Google will use AI models to combine and summarize information from the web in response to search queries, a product it calls Search Generative Experiences.

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Instead of the phrase “ten blue links” that describe Google’s typical search results, Google will show some users a paragraph of AI-generated text and a handful of links at the top of the results page.

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The new AI-based search is being tested for a select group of users and is not yet widely available. But website publishers are already worried that if this becomes Google’s default way of presenting search results, it could hurt them by sending fewer visitors to their sites and keeping them on

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The dispute highlights a long-running tension between Google and the websites it indexes, with a new artificial intelligence twist. Publishers have long worried that Google reproduces their verbatim content in snippets on their websites, but now Google is using advanced machine learning models that have “trained” software to “storage” large chunks of the web. ” to spit out human-like text and responses.

Rutledge Dougette, CEO TechRaptorA site focusing on gaming news and reviews said that Google’s move was made without considering the interests of publishers and that Google’s AI amounts to lifting content.

“Their focus is on zero-click searches that use information from publishers and authors who spend time and effort creating quality content, without offering any benefit other than the potential for more clicks,” Dougette told CNBC. told. “Thus far, the AI ​​has been quick to reuse others’ information with no benefit to them, and in cases like Google’s, Bard doesn’t even explain where the information it uses comes from.” “

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Luther Lowe, longtime Google critic and head of public policy barksaid Google’s update is part of a decades-old strategy of keeping users on the site longer, rather than sending them to the sites that originally hosted the information.

“The exclusionary self-choice of Google’s ChatGPT clone in search is the final chapter in a web bloodbath,” Lowe told CNBC.

According for search engine land, a news website that closely tracks changes to Google’s search engine, found AI-generated results displayed above organic search results in testing so far. CNBC previously reported Google’s plans to redesign its results page to promote AI generated content.

SGE comes in a different colored box – green in the example – and includes boxed links to the three websites on the right. In Google’s primary example, all three website titles were truncated.

Google says information is not derived from websites, but instead veneered by links. Search Engine Land said the SGE approach was an improvement and a “healthier” way to link compared to Google’s Bard chatbot, which rarely linked to publisher websites.

Some publishers are wondering if they can stop AI firms like Google from scraping their content to train their models. Firms like the one behind Stable Diffusion are already facing lawsuits from data owners, but the right for AI to scrape web data remains an unsettled frontier. Other companies, such as Reddit, have announced plans to charge for access their data,

Barry Diller, President, Head of the Publishing World IACWho owns websites including All Recipes, People Magazine and The Daily Beast.

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“If all the information in the world could be sucked into this jaw and then repackaged into essentially declarative sentences, that’s called chat, but it’s not chat – as many graphs as you want, on any topic at 25 – there would be no publication, because it would be impossible,” Diller said. at a conference last month,

Diller said, “What you have to do is tell the industry that you can’t scrap our content until you work out a system where there’s some way for the publisher to get paid. ” Google will have to face this problem.

Diller says he believes publishers can sue AI firms under copyright law and that current “fair use” restrictions need to be redefined. The Financial Times informed of Wednesday Diller is leading a group of publishers “who are going to say we’re going to change copyright law if we have to.” An IAC spokesperson declined a request to make Diller available for an interview.

One challenge publishers face is verifying that their content is being used by AI. Google did not disclose the training sources for its large language model that underpins SGE PaLM 2, and Daugette says that when he has seen examples of competitors’ citations and review scores without attribution to Bard, it is telling. Hard to find when the information is directly from their site without linked sources.

A Google spokesperson said the company does not have plans to share how it compensates publishers for the training data.

“We’re introducing this new generative AI experience as an experiment in Search Labs, incorporating feedback from users and other stakeholders to help us iterate and improve,” Google said in a statement.

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“PaLM 2 has been trained on the widest range of data openly available on the internet and we clearly value the health of the web ecosystem. An ecosystem where creators are a part of that thriving ecosystem,” said Researcher Google VP Zoubin Ghahrmani said at a media briefing earlier this week.

Dougette says Google’s moves make it harder to be an independent publisher.

“I think it’s really disappointing for our industry to be concerned about our hard work when so many associates are being laid off,” Duggett said. “This is not right.”

— CNBC’s Jordan Novett contributed reporting.