Making Stuff Up

You know how Google's new feature called AI Overviews is prone to spitting out wildly incorrect answers to search queries? In one instance, AI Overviews told a user to use glue on pizza to make sure the cheese won't slide off (pssst...please don't do this.)

Well, according to an interview at The Verge with Google CEO Sundar Pichai published earlier this week, just before criticism of the outputs really took off, these "hallucinations" are an "inherent feature" of  AI large language models (LLM), which is what drives AI Overviews, and this feature "is still an unsolved problem."

So expect more of these weird and incredibly wrong snafus from AI Overviews despite efforts by Google engineers to fix them, such as this big whopper: 13 American presidents graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Hint: this is so not true.)


But Pichai seems to downplay the errors.

"There are still times it’s going to get it wrong, but I don’t think I would look at that and underestimate how useful it can be at the same time," he said. "I think that would be the wrong way to think about it."

"Are we making progress? Yes, we are," he added. "We have definitely made progress when we look at metrics on factuality year on year. We are all making it better, but it’s not solved."

Fact or Fiction

Despite Pichai's optimism about AI Overviews and its usefulness, the errors have caused an uproar online, with many observers showing off various instances of incorrect information being generated by the feature.

And it's staining the already soiled reputation of Google's flagship product, Search, which has already been dinged for giving users trash results.

"People expect AI to be leaps & bounds more accurate than traditional methods… but it’s often not!" writes AI consultant and SEO expert Britney Muller on X. "Google’s playing a risky game competing against Perplexity & OpenAI, when they could be developing AI for bigger, more valuable use cases beyond Search."

From Pichai's words, it seems Google and the internet at large are in for a bumpy ride.

More on Google AI: The Reason That Google's AI Suggests Using Glue on Pizza Shows a Deep Flaw With Tech Companies' AI Obsession

Share This Article