If you’re one of the lucky ones with access to Google Search Labs, from now on you’ll notice that its generative AI search tool looks a little different. As of Thursday, Search Generative Experience, or SGE for short, now includes reference links directly within the AI-generated response.
Previously, if you wanted to know where SGE was getting its sources, you had to click on a small icon on the upper righthand corner, which would reveal corroborating sites for each of SGE’s claims. Now, SGE’s responses have arrow icons directly on the page, which drop down to show where the information was sourced from. “During testing, we’ve learned that people find it easier and more understandable when access to these links is presented within the overview itself,” said the blog post announcement.
SGE is only accessible via waitlist and only within Google’s testing ground, Labs, which makes it tricky to evaluate — the experimental status of a product gives it a sort of pass to have glaring problems, even if it’s in heavy use. But those who have had early access noted SGE’s, shall we say, liberal borrowing of content (sometimes verbatim) from human-written articles without explicit citation.
According to Hema Budaraju, Senior Director of Product Management of Search, from what Google has already learned, “people would like to see both the content as well as the sources that drive the content.” It’s unclear what kind of feedback SGE is receiving from publishers, but, Budaraju said, “We are prioritizing approaches that continue to drive traffic to the web, right? Because we think that it’s important for the health of the web.”
Plus, as has been said over and over, SGE is just an experiment. Whatever the final product ends up looking like remains to be seen. But for now the updated SGE interface in Search Labs definitely credits sources more clearly than before
If you have access to Search Labs and you’re based in the U.S. you can expect to see the changes today.
Google is also expanding access to Search Labs outside of the U.S. as of today. The first two countries to be able to test out SGE are Japan and India. They’ll have the original version of SGE, with the updated interface in the coming weeks.