Walter Shields Data Academy

Navigating Google’s New AI Overviews: A Guide for Users 



Google has recently launched a new search feature called AI Overviews, driven by their advanced Gemini model. This update is now available to users across the United States. Here’s what you need to know about this feature and how to handle it.


What Are AI Overviews?

When you search for information on Google, you might encounter an AI-generated summary at the top of your results. These AI Overviews are designed to provide quick answers sourced from various websites, saving you the step of clicking through links. However, not every search query will trigger an AI Overview.

Initially, AI Overviews were only available to those who opted in during its testing phase. Now, following Google’s I/O developer conference, this feature is rolling out to all US users. If your search query can be answered with a summary, you will likely see an AI Overview at the top of your results.


Disabling AI Overviews

If you prefer traditional web links over AI-generated summaries, disabling AI Overviews completely is not an option. However, you can bypass them by following these steps:

  1. Manual Adjustment: After your search results appear, click on the “More” tab (alongside Images, Videos, Shopping, etc.) and select “Web.” This will filter your results to show traditional web links.
  2. Browser Extensions: There are browser extensions available for Chrome, Vivaldi, and Firefox that can force Google to display only web links, bypassing the AI Overviews.


When Do AI Overviews Appear?

AI Overviews are more likely to appear for complex queries where Google’s AI can provide a comprehensive summary. According to Google, these summaries aim to help users quickly understand information from multiple sources. However, during initial tests, these summaries sometimes appeared for simpler questions as well.


Accuracy and Concerns

One major concern with AI-generated content is the potential for inaccuracies. Google’s AI Overview feature doesn’t include a disclaimer about possible inaccuracies, unlike their Gemini chatbot, which does warn users about potential errors. Despite Google’s quality assurance tests, users are advised to verify the information by checking the original sources.


Future Implications

Google plans to expand AI Overviews globally by the end of 2024, potentially affecting over a billion users. This feature will introduce many people to AI-generated summaries, which could impact how users interact with search results and the trustworthiness of the information provided.

As Google continues to innovate and integrate AI into our everyday tools, it’s crucial for us to remain informed and critical users. AI Overviews promise to streamline our search experiences, but they also remind us of the importance of verifying information and understanding the technology that shapes our digital landscape.


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