Pizza glue and rock eating: Google AI search error goes viral

Pizza glue and rock eating: Google AI search error goes viral

Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) search feature is facing criticism for providing erratic and inaccurate answers.

Its experimental “AI Overviews” tool has told some users looking for ways to make cheese stick to pizza better that they can use “non-toxic glue”.
The search engine’s AI-generated response also says geologists recommend humans eat a stone a day.
A Google spokesperson told the BBC that they were “isolated examples”.
Some of the answers seem to be based on Reddit comments or articles written by the satirical site, The Onion.
They have been widely mocked on social media.
But Google insists the feature generally works well.
“The examples we see are generally very unusual queries, and do not represent the experiences of most people,” he said in a statement.
“Most AI overviews provide high-quality information, with links to dig deeper on the web.”
It said it took action when “policy violations” were identified and used them to fine-tune its systems.
This isn’t the first time the company has run into trouble with its AI-powered products.
In February, it had to pause its Gemini chatbot which was criticized for its “awake” responses.
Gemini’s predecessor, Bard, also got off to a bad start.
Google first trialled AI overviews in search results for a small number of logged-in UK users in April, but rolled out the feature to all US users at its annual developer fair in mid-May.
It works by using AI to provide a summary of search results, so users don’t have to scroll through a long list of websites to find the information they’re looking for.
It’s billed as a product that “can take the hard work out of searching” although users are warned that it’s experimental.
However, it is likely to be widely used – and trusted – as Google search remains the search engine of choice.
According to web traffic tracker Statcounter, Google’s search engine accounts for more than 90% of the global market.
It’s still fundamental to how Google makes its money, and the services the firm needs to protect and future-proof it.
Many industry experts agree that more focused AI-driven search is the way forward – despite the environmental price tag of the power-hungry technology.
Why wade through search engine results pages and ads to find information when a chatbot can give you a definitive answer?
But this only works if you can trust it.
So-called hallucinations by generative AI tools aren’t just a problem for Google, but as the world’s largest search engine, it gets more scrutiny.
In one puzzling example, a reporter Googling whether they could use gasoline to cook spaghetti faster was told “no… but you can use gasoline to make a spicy spaghetti dish” and given the recipe.
We don’t know how many searches it does correctly (because it’s less funny to share on social media), but search AI clearly needs to be able to handle anything thrown at it, including more left field.
Rival firms are facing a similar backlash against their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.
UK data watchdogs are scrutinizing Microsoft after it announced a feature coming to a new range of AI-focused PCs that will take continuous screenshots of their online activity.
And ChatGPT maker OpenAI has been called out by Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson for using her voice-over, saying she rejected her request to voice the popular chatbot.

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