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The Growing Backlash to Google's New AI Overviews

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai is facing tough questions about the company's rollout of AI Overviews.

The new feature, which uses AI to summarize web pages, is already drawing fire for inaccuracies and potential negative impacts on web traffic. 

It's the latest AI stumble for Google—and one that could have lasting consequences.

How worried should you be about AI Overviews?

I got the answers from Marketing AI Institute founder and CEO Paul Roetzer on Episode 99 of The Artificial Intelligence Show.

Google's CEO in the hot seat

In a recent interview on The Verge's Decoder podcast, Pichai was grilled about AI Overviews and their potential to disrupt the economics of the web. 

While the interview remained civil, Patel's line of questioning revealed a growing frustration and uncertainty among marketers and businesses about how AI could upend the search ecosystem.

"A lot of the answers kind of came down to: Disruption is messy. It upsets people and ways of doing things, but we're committed to seeing this through,” says Roetzer.

AI Overviews have tons of issues

The concerns about AI Overviews aren't just theoretical. The feature is already causing headaches since its release at Google I/O.

Search Engine Roundtable has started compiling a directory of embarrassing AI Overviews that are packed with inaccuracies and misinformation. In one viral example, an AI Overview advised adding glue to pizza sauce to keep the cheese from slipping off. 

"Google's brand is giving you authoritative, trustworthy answers to things. These are not that," says Roetzer. "You cannot trust the AI Overviews right now."

The shoddy quality is especially baffling given that AI Overviews (previously called Search Generative Experience) have been in testing for eight months, says Roetzer. 

"It's almost like the search quality team was not involved in the AI Overviews product at all," says Roetzer. "Yes, it can summarize things. But whatever the search quality algorithms are that determine trustworthy sources, it doesn't appear to be in the product."

Trust (and traffic) on the line

The stakes couldn't be higher for Google. If the company's core value proposition—delivering reliable information—is undermined, it could face an existential threat.

"If they lose authoritative, trustworthy search results, it becomes a really slippery slope," warns Roetzer. 

He notes that alternative search engines like Perplexity.ai are already delivering more reliable AI-powered results.

There's also the looming specter of plummeting referral traffic from search as users get their questions answered without ever clicking through to a website. It's an outcome that could torpedo the incentive structure of search as we know it.

What happens next?

Given the severity of the issues with AI Overviews, Roetzer says he will actually be "shocked" if Google doesn't turn off the feature for the time being.

But the damage may already be done.

"My biggest concern is we're now in the territory of eroding what Google's brand is known for," says Roetzer. 

"It's weird. I'm still so bullish on Google and their long-term strategy and value here, but they just keep having missteps.”

In the end, the AI Overviews may just be another casualty of the breakneck pace of the entire AI race. As companies rush to ship AI products, mistakes are being made, says Roetzer.

"Everybody's moving too fast and no one's getting it right."

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