Google has announced that it’s opening up access to Search Labs, its new program for the public to access its early experiments. One notable new Labs experiment going on is Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE). It’s basically a way to put its generative AI (think Google Bard or ChatGPT) right into Google Search results.
Available for those who signed up for Search Labs, Search Generative Experience will completely revamp the usual Google Search results page. Gone are the links to the results, instead replaced with colourful boxes above the regular search results. In these boxes would be information about your search prompt that Google found all over the web presented almost like its Material You theme from their Pixel smartphones.
In an example shown by Google, a screenshot of a search for ‘Bluetooth speaker’ on a desktop browser resulted in first your regular ‘sponsored’ row of ads, followed by the generative AI’s results in a giant blue box before actually getting to the results. This blue box shows all of the AI answers that it gathered elsewhere and proceeds to lists its own statements and opinions about various Bluetooth speakers. Curiously, no source is provided for each statement or piece of information, though there are links for you to buy the various speakers provided by Google’s AI.
It all ends up being quite a bit like a near future dystopia, where the AI gives you a lot of unsourced opinions that you aren’t sure where it’s sourced from. Questions about the trustworthiness of Google’s Search Generative Experience aside, it’s also a bit jarring to see not just the regular sponsored section right under the search bar, but also again in the AI’s blue box of answers, making it feel like its first job is to sell you whatever product you Googled for rather than provide you with information—you know, the actual job of a search engine?
In any case, the generative AI results are now only an opt in option for now. If you want to try it out you’ll have to sign up for Search Labs via the mobile Google Search app first, join a waitlist and then only will you get access to it. Though really I’m not sure why you’d want to when the Search Generative Experience looks like it’ll need much more work before it should ever be made into a public release.