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Google restores AI search functionality after errors and flaws

by Lily Chang
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Liz Reid, Google’s recently promoted head of search, wrote in a blog post Thursday that the company has pared back its AI overviews in certain ways, implementing “additional opt-in refinements” to provide more health-conscious responses, disabling misleading advice and limiting the inclusion of satire and user responses from forums like Reddit.

“We will continue to improve when and how we show AI insights and strengthen our protections,” he wrote, adding that Google is working on updates to improve broad sets of search results.

Ashley Thompson, a spokeswoman for Google, said in a statement Friday that the company has made more than a dozen technical updates to its systems.

“AI overviews help people answer large numbers of search queries today, serving as a starting point for content on the web.” The company added that while it was making changes to improve AI overviews, it would not back away from the feature in the long term.

The step back was a blow to Google’s efforts to keep pace with its rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, the maker of the ChatGPT chatbot, in the frantic race to become a leader in artificial intelligence. He also underlined the difficult strategic choice Google faces whether to embrace AI technology that may not be reliable or keep the same hugely popular search engine and risk falling behind its peers.

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