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Google + AI Feature = Chaos

Google SGE is producing nonsensical word salads. Is this really supposed to replace traditional search engines?

“Even with access to all the information in the digital world, AI can still be very, very stupid,” writes Maggie Harrison at Futurism. She’s referencing Google’s AI search feature, Google SGE, that “doesn’t understand geography” or the alphabet.

When Harrison and her peers noticed someone complain about a glitch in the AI search feature, which purported that there were no countries in Africa that started with the letter “K” (ahem, Kenya, anyone?) they decided to test it out for themselves. Sure enough, the verdict is in. Google’s AI doesn’t know how to parse out blatantly false information. Harrison writes,

When asked to provide a list of “countries in North America that start with the letter M,” for instance, Google SGE was deeply confused:

“Here are some countries in North America that start with the letter M:

• Mexico: 758,249 square miles
• Saint Kitts and Nevis: The smallest country in North America
• El Salvador: The smallest country on the mainland
• Greenland: A dependent territory of Denmark, but would be the third-largest country in the continent
• United States: 3,617,827 square miles
• District of Columbia: Part of the United States “

As we’re sure it goes without saying, this list is wildly incorrect. Only one of these countries, Mexico, even starts with the correct letter, and one of the listed locales – Washington, DC – isn’t even a country.

-Maggie Harrison, Google’s Search AI Is Absolutely Horrible at Geography (futurism.com)

Yikes. That’s significantly off the mark, to say the least. Harrison notes that Google SGE did a bit better with other questions, like listing all the countries in Asia that start with the letter “M”, but it still made a mistake, listing “Nepal” as a correct answer. Harrison infers that not only is the AI scraping false information from the Internet, but it’s additionally failing to separate fact from fiction. Who can blame it? AI is a computing system that lacks contextualizing skills and common sense. It’s “faux intelligence.” (RELATED: Let’s Call AI What It Really Is: Faux Intelligence | Mind Matters)

If these issues aren’t significantly addressed in the coming months, then the hope that AI will be the new search engine might be a woeful pipe dream. You already can’t trust everything you read on the Internet (looking at you, Wikipedia). AI bot distortions will only amplify the falsehoods – in curated and personalized form.

Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is the author of Hillbilly Hymn and Keep and Other Stories and has also written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is the Writer and Editor for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.

Google + AI Feature = Chaos