Google’s A.I. Search Errors Cause a Furor Online

Last week, Google unveiled its biggest change to search in years, showcasing new artificial intelligence capabilities that answer people’s questions in the company’s attempt to catch up to rivals Microsoft and OpenAI.

The new technology has since generated a litany of untruths and errors — including recommending glue as part of a pizza recipe and the ingesting of rocks for nutrients — giving a black eye to Google and causing a furor online.

The incorrect answers in the feature, called AI Overview, have undermined trust in a search engine that more than two billion people turn to for authoritative information. And while other A.I. chatbots tell lies and act weird, the backlash demonstrated that Google is under more pressure to safely incorporate A.I. into its search engine.

The launch also extends a pattern of Google’s having issues with its newest A.I. features immediately after rolling them out. In February 2023, when Google announced Bard, a chatbot to battle ChatGPT, it shared incorrect information about outer space. The company’s market value subsequently dropped by $100 billion.

This February, the company released Bard’s successor, Gemini, a chatbot that could generate images and act as a voice-operated digital assistant. Users quickly realized that the system refused to generate images of white people in most instances and drew inaccurate depictions of historical figures.

With each mishap, tech industry insiders have criticized the company for dropping the ball. But in interviews, financial analysts said Google needed to move quickly to keep up with its rivals, even if it meant growing pains.

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