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Google will start showing AI-powered search results to users who didn’t opt in

If you’re in the US, you might see a new shaded section at the top of your Google Search results with a summary answering your inquiry, along with links for more information. That section, generated by Google’s generative AI technology, used to appear only if you’ve opted into the Search Generative Experience (SGE) in the Search Labs platform. Now, according to Search Engine Land, Google has started adding the experience on a “subset of queries, on a small percentage of search traffic in the US.” And that is why you could be getting Google’s experimental AI-generated section even if you haven’t switched it on.

The company introduced SGE at its I/O developer conference in May last year, shortly after it opened up access to its ChatGPT rival Bard, now called Gemini. By November, it had rolled out the feature to 120 countries with more languages other than English, but it still remained opt in. Search Engine Land says Google will start showing you the experience even if you haven’t opted in if you look up complex queries or if it thinks you could benefit from getting information from multiple websites. “How do I get marks off painted walls,” is apparently one example.

Google told the publication that for these tests, it will only show AI overviews if it has confidence that they will show information better than what Search results might surface. Apparently, the company is conducting these tests, because it wants to get feedback from more people, specifically from those who didn’t choose to activate the feature. That way it can have a better idea of how generative AI can serve those who may not be tech-savvy or those who couldn’t care less about generative AI.

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