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Google’s AI Overview totally sucks

Since ChatGPT blew up toward the end of 2022, generative artificial intelligence has been the hottest conversation point in tech. Some of it has been warranted, and some of it not. For the last two years, virtually every CEO has mentioned genAI in some form or another during earnings calls and quarterly reports. Most of it just feels like hot air; I don’t need to know how AI is making my vacuum cleaner smarter. I’d just like for it to clean my floor.

Anyway, seeing headlines like “Ex-Googler: Google’s AI projects are driven by ‘stone cold panic'” leads me to believe that Google is really botching its AI rollouts. Bard was not even as good at GPT 3.5 when I was using that, and then there have been a host of social media posts of late lampooning the embarrassing results Google displays using its “AI Overview.”

Or this:

Anyway, they’re both pretty embarrassing. But seeing was believing for me; I was searching on my phone the other day to find out what options my parents had for streaming Cleveland Guardians games, as they no longer have cable. They live in Northeast Ohio and use YouTube TV, but because of the embarrassing Diamond Sports Group bankruptcy, my parents weren’t even able to get Guardians games last spring before they dropped their overpriced cable package for streaming only.

As I searched on my phone, Google offered me an AI Overview stating that I had five options: Fubo, DirecTV Stream, Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. That last one sounded great; if I could pay $10-$15 per month as an add-on for my parents, I was more than happy to. It’s been a great season watching the Guards (I use the MLB app, as I live out of market), and I want for them to enjoy the ride.

The results on my phone are up above. But it didn’t sound right from what I remembered. I then clicked into one of the top results. Lo and behold, only Fubo and DirecTV Stream carry Bally Sports. The other streaming services don’t; they’ll need to pay for the Bally Sports app if they want to see Guardians games. In other words: Google’s AI Overview was 60 percent incorrect.

This may seem minor, but there’s little reason to trust Google’s results anymore. What if I was looking for financial information? Or quickly trying to find information about drug interactions? Sure, talk to a financial advisor or a doctor. But Google positions itself as this portal to all the information you need—now with real and improved AI flavor!—but that information is steaming dog shit.

This company has had a monopoly on one product for so long that it found a way to make that product bordering on unusable. I don’t feel bad for Google—I feel bad for everyone who doesn’t have another option, and for all the users who don’t know any better that Google stopped innovating a long time ago, and its best product is broken. The charts must go up and to the left!

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