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How to Access Google’s New Generative AI Search Feature

Google launched an experimental AI search feature that provides more detailed and conversational answers to search queries, rather than just a list of links. This new feature has the potential to revolutionize how we find information online. If you want to be among the first to try out Google’s Generative AI search experience, here is a guide on how to gain access.

What is Google’s Generative AI Search Feature?

Google’s new Generative AI search capability utilizes large language models trained on web content to generate conversational and summarized responses to searches. For example, ask it a question like what causes seasons on Earth? and it will provide an explanatory overview answering the question in its own words, rather than simply displaying links to other sites.

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This Generative AI-powered search experience aims to offer users a helpful assistant that can understand requests and provide answers directly. It’s a major evolution of Google search as we know it.

How to Enable Google’s Generative AI Search

Google’s AI search feature is currently available as an opt-in preview, meaning you have to proactively turn it on to test it. Here are the steps to gain access on desktop:

  1. Go to the Google Search Labs site at labs.google.com.
  2. Scroll down and look for the box titled “Help improve search” and click on “Get started.”
  3. In the list of options, find “Try AI-powered overviews when you search” and click the toggle button to enable it.
  4. Agree to the data privacy terms.
  5. In Google search, you should now see an option for “See overviews” in the search options menu. Click this and you can now test the AI search features.

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Using Google's AI Search

Note that availability seems limited primarily to the United States at this time. The feature is not yet available on mobile, only on desktop search.

Also note that even after enabling it, the AI responses don’t appear for every query. Relevance is still hit or miss during this preview period while Google continues improving the technology.

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Using Google’s AI Search

Once enabled, you can test Google’s AI search experience by scrolling down on the search results page and looking for a summary overview box that provides a conversational response to your query.

For example, searching for “biggest plane in the world” brings up an overview summarizing key details about the Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo aircraft.

You can also click the “See overviews” option to prompt the search engine to provide an AI-generated response. It may offer follow-up questions and allow you to interact in a dialog to learn more.

The goal is to provide a helpful assistant that can quickly answer questions and provide key information from across the web in an easy-to-digest format.

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Current Limitations

As an early preview, Google’s AI search experience still has limitations:

  • It’s not yet widely available, as rollout is gradual.
  • It only works on desktop search, not mobile.
  • It’s limited to English language queries.
  • Availability of overview summaries is inconsistent across search queries.
  • Some responses may be inaccurate or incoherent.
  • Customization options are minimal.

However, Google is rapidly improving the technology, so capabilities should evolve quickly. This is just the beginning of a major push towards an AI-first search paradigm.

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The launch of Google’s AI search preview foreshadows some major potential shifts in how we find information online. In the future, search may move beyond just links and snippets to offer contextual summaries, conversational dialogs, and intelligent assistants that can synthesize complex information easily.

It may become the norm to simply ask questions online and get direct answers, rather than combing through pages of links. However, challenges around accuracy, limitations in AI capabilities, and user trust will need to be overcome. But with Google now in the game, the future of search is looking more intelligent than ever.

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Last modified: August 31, 2023

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