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Google jumps into the generative AI landscape by opening access to its Search Labs program.

This week Google announced that it is opening access to Search Generative Experience, or SGE, an experimental version of its search engine powered by generative artificial intelligence.

The new service was announced at Google’s I/O 2023 event.The new offering was then further explicated in a blog post by Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, the Product Lead for SGE, and Cheenu Venkatachary, the Engineering lead. They explained that Google is starting to open up access to Search Labs, which is a new program to access early experiments from the search giant, with SGE at the forefront.

SGE does the “heavy lifting” in search

The two Google staffers went on to say that the new generative AI powered Search experience “will help you take some of the work out of searching, so you can understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights and get things done more easily”.

SGE is aimed at answering longer, multi-step searches. The new search service “will provide an AI-powered snapshot so you can get help understanding what factors to consider”, the SGE leads write. It will also help users to “uncover quick tips” for their specific questions. For example, if a user is getting ready for an international trip, but they need to make sure their documents are up to date, they could search for “How can I renew my passport quickly?”. They will then easily find pointers for the key info they need to know. Alternatively, they may see a range of options available and take the next step with help from the web.

Search Labs offers several new features to test

SGE is the first of several experimental features that users can test through Google’s Search Labs. The program also offers access to Code Tips, a generative AI tool designed to answer programming questions. Users can ask how-to-questions related to a specific set of programming languages (C, C++, Go, Java, JavaScript, Kotlin, Python, TypeScript), tools (Docker, Git, shells), and algorithms.

Another feature, Add to Sheets, allows users to sync a search result quickly to a spreadsheet.

In addition to the AI-powered SGE, Google is piloting a chatbot service called Bard. This is Google’s challenger to OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT. In another announcement made at I/O 2023, the search giant claimed they had expanded the availability of Bard to 180 countries. The company also shared new details about the technology behind its generative AI features.