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Google experiments with Generative AI Search in Africa

Google has announced the introduction of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region, marking a significant leap in the capabilities of its search engine. This new feature, accessible as an opt-in experiment in Search Labs, harnesses the power of generative AI to revolutionise how users interact with Google Search. Available in English, the Search Generative Experience initiative represents Google’s commitment to leveraging cutting-edge AI technology to enhance the search experience in a bold yet responsible manner.

The implementation of generative AI in Google Search is designed to address the common challenge of information overload on the internet. With SGE, users can obtain an AI-generated summary of key information related to their queries, complemented by links for deeper exploration. This approach simplifies the process of sifting through vast online information, making it easier and faster to find relevant answers. For instance, a query like “Does Honey ever Spoil?” would typically require breaking down the question, analyzing various sources, and piecing together information manually. However, Search Generative Experience simplifies this by providing an initial overview followed by suggested follow-up questions or the option to enter specific queries, enhancing the conversational and intuitive nature of the search process.

Moreover, the context from previous inquiries is retained, enabling a more natural and continuous exploration of topics. SGE also emphasizes diversity in its source material, directing attention to a wide array of voices and content on the web. This feature not only aids in comprehensive learning but also boosts the visibility of different content creators and websites, fostering a richer online ecosystem.

An essential aspect of Search Generative Experience is its integration with advertisements. Maintaining the existing structure, ads will continue to appear in designated areas, distinguished clearly from organic search results. Google reaffirms its commitment to transparency in advertisements, with each ad marked distinctly with a bold black “Sponsored” label, ensuring users can easily differentiate between paid and organic content.

Google’s approach to incorporating generative AI into its search engine is grounded in responsibility and prudence. The AI models powering Search Generative Experience are rigorously trained to meet Google’s high standards for quality and accuracy, with ongoing improvements anticipated. Additional safeguards are in place, such as limiting the types of queries where AI capabilities will be active, ensuring a balanced and safe search experience.

Wambui Kinya, GM for Search in Africa, highlights the transformative potential of Search Generative Experience, envisioning a search tool that significantly reduces the effort required from users. The goal is to enable faster comprehension, uncover diverse perspectives, and facilitate task completion with greater ease. This new development in Google Search is a critical step towards realizing a more efficient and helpful search engine, with the SSA region being the initial beneficiary. Feedback from users will play a crucial role in refining and evolving the Search Generative Experience feature over time.

Finally, the SGE experiment is accessible through Search Labs on both the Chrome desktop browser and the latest version of the Google App on Android and iOS devices. Users interested in experiencing this new search dimension can opt-in and provide direct feedback to the development team, contributing to the continuous enhancement of Google’s search technology. This marks a new era in search capabilities, blending AI innovation with user-centric design to redefine the way we seek and process information online.

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