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Navigating the AI Maze: The Mixed Reality of Google’s AI Overviews in Search Results

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Michael Calore and Lauren Goode

Adapting to Google's AI Summaries

Over the last twelve months, Google has eagerly introduced AI functionalities across its services. However, with each new feature, it's increasingly evident that several of these supposed improvements might have benefited from additional development time. The most recent release causing a mix of anticipation and mockery is AI Overviews, the automatically created summary boxes showing up at the beginning of certain Google search outcomes.

Ideally, AI Overviews aim to provide concise answers and summaries to users' queries by aggregating key details and linking to their sources, enhancing the utility of search results. However, in practice, these overviews have proven to be somewhat problematic. Often, the summaries confidently present information that is incorrect, occasionally in ways that are noticeably erroneous. Furthermore, even when the information is accurate, the AI Overviews tend to give a narrow view of the subject matter, lacking the depth and context found in the original web pages. Due to these issues and the ensuing critique, it has been reported that Google has reduced the frequency of AI Overviews appearing in search results, making them less common than when they were initially introduced.

This week, our conversation features WIRED contributors Kate Knibbs and Reece Rogers as we discuss the launch, Google's oversight of the process, and our experiences observing our journalistic work being consumed by these voracious information bots.

Episode Summary

Explore Kate's analysis on Google's decision to reduce the regularity of its AI Summaries. Dive into Reece's account of how his unique work was replicated by Google’s AI Summaries. Learn from Lauren’s perspective on the transformative change Google Search is undergoing.

Suggestions

Kate suggests checking out Token Supremacy, authored by Zachary Small. Reece advises giving the game Balatro a try. Lauren endorses the poetic collection Technelegy by Sasha Stiles. Meanwhile, Mike advocates for reading Neu Klang: The Definitive History of Krautrock, written by Christoph Dallach.

You can follow Kate Knibbs on social media via @Knibbs on platform X, or @extremeknibbs on Threads and Instagram. Reece Rogers uses the handle @reece___rogers. Find Lauren Goode at @LaurenGoode, and Michael Calore can be reached at @snackfight. For the main contact, reach out to @GadgetLab. The production of the show is handled by Boone Ashworth, whose handle is @booneashworth. The theme music is credited to Solar Keys.

Listening Guide

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Transcript Notice: Please be aware that this transcript was generated by an automated process and might include inaccuracies.

Michael Calore: Lauren.

Lauren Goode: Mike.

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Unfortunately, you haven't provided

Michael Calore: Have you come across any AI Summaries during your searches on Google?

Lauren Goode: Absolutely, I agree. They seem to be all over the place.

Michael Calore: Do you generally find them useful? Are they a distraction? Ever hilariously incorrect?

Lauren Goode describes the situation as sluggish and primarily diverting, noting instances that have been humorously inaccurate. She acknowledges that many have noticed this trend, alongside a proliferation of fabricated examples as individuals experiment for amusement. However, Goode expresses some worry about these developments being part of the current Google Search experience.

Michael Calore: Indeed, the launch has been far from seamless. It's encountered several obstacles.

Lauren Goode: Have the disturbances intensified? I must mention that I've been away from my desk for a week, visiting a region where the GDPR regulations are highly enforced.

Michael Calore: Understated boast.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely. My online activity lately has involved dealing with roughly 1,300 cookie notifications. I've been less focused on keeping up with the Overviews. Can you fill me in on the recent developments?

Michael Calore: Indeed, it's been quite the adventure.

Lauren Goode: Is that so?

Michael Calore: Indeed. The adventure is ongoing, so let's dive into the discussion this week.

Lauren Goode: Okay, let's get started.

[The introductory theme music for Gadget Lab starts playing]

Michael Calore: Hello, all. Thanks for joining us here at Gadget Lab. My name is Michael Calore, and I serve as the director of consumer technology and culture at WIRED.

Lauren Goode: Also, my name is Lauren Goode. I hold the position of senior writer at WIRED.

Michael Calore: This week, we're accompanied by a couple of guests. Joining us in the studio is Reece Rogers, a staff writer for WIRED. It's great to have you here for your inaugural appearance.

Reece Rogers: Greetings. It's a privilege to be here in the Gadget Lab.

Lauren Goode: Having you here, Reece, is such a delight.

Michael Calore: Joining us remotely from Chicago, it’s great to have WIRED’s senior writer, Kate Knibbs, back on the show. Hello, Kate.

Kate Knibbs: Hello. I appreciate the invitation.

Michael Calore: It's always a pleasure to welcome you.

Lauren Goode humorously points out the commonality in podcast introductions, noting that guests often express gratitude for being invited with the typical "Thanks for having me." She jests that no one ever remarks, "I've been swamped, but nonetheless, you're welcome. I've made space in my schedule for your podcast." Lauren expresses sincere appreciation for everyone's presence.

Michael Calore: Shifting perspectives. The past three weeks have been quite a whirlwind following the debut of AI Overviews. For those utilizing Google for online searches, these features have likely caught your eye. They appear in specific search queries, offering not the usual lineup of links or handpicked details about your search subject, but rather an AI-crafted synopsis of the topic you're inquiring about. The bulk of commentary surrounding AI Overviews has zeroed in on their oddity, inaccuracies, or their tendency to echo the content found in the highest-ranking search outcomes.

This week, we're joined by specialists to delve into the topic. Lauren, you were on the scene for the debut of AI Overviews, capturing insights from Google's newly appointed search chief, Liz Reid, in early May. Reece, since their introduction, you've been closely examining the mechanics of AI Overviews and have some interesting stories to share. And Kate, we'll begin with you, as you've reported on Google's approach to the deployment. Could you, therefore, share with us the details of the research report you obtained this week?

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Kate Knibbs: Absolutely. My attention was drawn to AI Overviews in the media primarily due to their inaccurate and odd content. What's interesting is that this information comes from a study conducted by an SEO company named BrightEdge. They were analyzing the frequency of AI Overviews showing up in search results for various keywords. During its beta phase, AI Overviews were highly prevalent, appearing about 84 percent of the time a keyword was searched. However, they observed a significant reduction in this frequency over time. I had initially thought this reduction might be linked to the negative reactions sparked by AI Overviews suggesting nonsensical advice like using glue as a pizza ingredient or consuming rocks. Additionally, they spread blatantly false information, such as claiming Barack Obama was the first gay president, among other inaccuracies.

However, their findings showed that the downturn had started from the very beginning. This implies that Google was making adjustments to the search function almost immediately after its introduction, indicating they were aware from the start that their product wasn't entirely successful and began making modifications as soon as the IO event took place.

Another fascinating outcome of this study is the discovery that, despite a significant overall decline, there are still specific areas where entering a query is highly likely to yield an AI Summary. Interestingly, this does not apply to all categories. For instance, searches related to travel have a minimal chance of producing an AI Summary. Surprisingly, e-commerce, which was expected to be a dominant category, does not lead in this regard. Instead, health care emerges as the top category for this phenomenon. Queries about health issues, such as symptoms of asthma or questions about diabetes—essentially, any search concerning diseases—still have a high probability, about 63%, of returning an AI Summary. However, it's important to note that this isn't a universal outcome and can vary.

Additionally, it's worth noting that when I approached Google for a comment on the matter, they suggested the figures I mentioned were inaccurate, yet they declined to provide any specific numbers of their own. This I found quite intriguing. Subsequently, my conversations with various SEO experts confirmed that the healthcare sector continues to generate a significant amount of AI-generated summaries. While I was able to confirm these trends on my own, it's likely that Google's perspective on the issue may vary.

Interestingly, the conversations I had with SEO professionals revealed a more favorable view of Google than anticipated, especially given the widespread perception of the recent update as disastrous. Many expressed that they've noticed significant enhancements already and remain hopeful. Jim Yu, the executive chairman of BrightEdge, referred to the situation as a minor hiccup, firmly believing in the continued dominance of AI in the search industry. This perspective was somewhat unexpected to me, suggesting a positive outlook.

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By [Your Name]

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One observation I'd like to share is my experience when exploring health-related searches. As an experiment, I entered a query about the health benefits of chocolate. Initially, the AI Overview directed me to websites of chocolate manufacturers along with authoritative health sites. However, a recheck six hours later showed an interesting update: the links to the chocolate companies had been removed, leaving only trusted health information sources. This change made me think, "They're making an effort. Whether it's sufficient remains to be seen, but their attempt is clear." It's an area I plan to keep an eye on, as it appears they are still in the process of refining their approach.

Lauren Goode: At this stage, what's the accuracy issue? Out of a given amount of searches, how many AI Summaries are produced that either violate Google's content guidelines or are simply profoundly incorrect?

Kate Knibbs: It's something I'm curious about as well. The exact impact remains unclear, particularly with the constant changes being made. The truth is, SEO firms each employ their own unique approach to monitor search queries, but at the end of the day, these are just educated guesses. They lack the direct insight into user searches that Google possesses, relying instead on popular keywords to make their assessments. So, to be honest, I'm not certain about the degree of inaccuracy involved. From what I've gathered, it seems to be quite significant, though further studies will be necessary to confirm this.

Lauren Goode: While you were discussing that topic, I took the initiative to look it up, and interestingly, I didn’t find a comprehensive AI summary. What I discovered instead was Google's statement indicating a rather low frequency of policy breaches, with only one instance occurring out of every seven million distinct searches. So, essentially, that's a rarity of one in seven million. Alright.

Michael Calore: So, essentially, it's occurring every second.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely, consider the number of searches conducted daily, running into billions, right? Yes, indeed. Even then, that number remains impressively large today.

Reece Rogers expressed surprise at the high rate of inconsistency he observed, especially when he mentioned an instance where he used the feature to search whether Mpox or monkeypox predominantly affects gay individuals. He found it amusing yet concerning that the AI-generated summary affirmed this, while a highlighted excerpt directly contradicted it, despite both pulling information from the same source. This highlighted the ongoing challenges Google faces in managing health-related inquiries through its AI feature. Rogers was particularly taken aback by Google's decision to continue featuring AI-generated overviews for health topics, which he believed should be more tightly regulated to prevent misleading information, similar to the inaccuracies Kate pointed out related to non-health-related queries, like those about chocolate, where irrelevant sites were being referenced. The presence of such discrepancies, Rogers argued, indicated a clear need for Google to enhance its oversight to eliminate these errors.

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Certainly! However, it seems

Lauren Goode pointed out that in an effort to manage their public image, Google had been active in explaining their side of the story. Initially, they released a statement clarifying the accuracy issues, followed by Liz Reid, the chief of search, publishing another article. In it, she addressed the misconception that their AI Overviews were generating false information, a term that media and others might have mistakenly used. Reid clarified that the AI's inaccuracies didn't stem from fabricating information like some other big language models do. Instead, errors arose because the AI misunderstood the queries or the nuances in language found online, or because it lacked access to quality information. These issues, she noted, are not uncommon even in conventional search queries.

What astonishes me, and to add to the sense of astonishment about the ongoing nature of this situation, is the fact that it involves health-care-related searches. What's equally astonishing is that Google has been internally testing or beta testing this for more than a year. They must have encountered these problems during that time. Despite this, when Google IO rolled around, they decided to release it globally, or at least to those who speak English.

Michael Calore: Absolutely. The tech sector is really pushing to demonstrate their expertise in AI and to release AI-driven offerings. What could possibly enhance these products more than allowing countless users to interact with them, right? However, it remains somewhat odd since we depend on Google Search so frequently for significant tasks. It's as if this unpredictable uncle has barged in, disrupting our ability to accomplish our tasks, doesn't it?

Kate Knibbs shared an experience that underscored her skepticism towards AI-generated summaries, particularly in the realm of healthcare. She recounted a recent incident where her son was running a fever due to an ear infection, and she was trying to decide whether to wake him for Tylenol. This search triggered an AI-generated summary, which she found herself disregarding in favor of scrolling down to engage with the search results in the conventional manner. Knibbs expressed her frustration with encountering these AI summaries during various search attempts, highlighting her current preference for traditional search methods. She expressed a hope for future flexibility in being able to switch these AI summaries on or off.

Michael Calore mentioned that there's a workaround one can perform following a search. Navigate to the tabs situated above the search results to initiate this process…

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Lauren Goode: Navigate to the internet.

Michael Calore: Absolutely. You know, for accessing different types of search results like news, images, or videos. Occasionally, you might need to open a drop-down menu to find it, but there's a web option available. By selecting it, you're presented with a list of links.

Lauren Goode: Individuals are now creating Chrome extensions for this as well.

Michael Calore: Absolutely.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely.

Michael Calore: Absolutely. Regarding those Firefox add-ons, there are various techniques you can apply to ensure they become your standard setup. However, Google has no plans to disable it. They're making everyone adopt it and navigate around it on their own.

Reece Rogers expressed concern, noting that when a feature's release prompts widespread efforts to block it, including the development of Chrome extensions for this purpose, it's hardly indicative of a successful launch.

Michael Calore: Absolutely. However, it's good they're permitted in the Chrome Store. Alright, we'll pause for a brief moment and then return shortly.

Certainly! Please provide

Michael Calore: Reece, I'm interested in hearing about your time using AI Overviews. You've been closely evaluating this function since its introduction, and you've come across some aspects recently that raised your concerns. Could you share those with us?

Reece Rogers: Absolutely, I'd be thrilled to discuss that. Working as a service writer for WIRED, I'm always eager to dive into the latest AI advancements, aiming to demystify their applications and boundaries for our audience. Recently, during a camping getaway with buddies, I found myself in the tent scrolling through social media, captivated by the buzz around these AI Overview responses. Although I had experimented with this feature previously, this time around, I got curious to explore how it might incorporate or mention the subjects I've reported on in its summaries.

Lauren Goode: That sounds like a smart suggestion.

Reece Rogers: Absolutely. Discovering my article referenced as a footnote in an AI Summary didn't catch me off guard, but I was truly astonished to find that Google's initial response borrowed extensively from my work. Comparing the two sections closely, it genuinely seemed as though I was in school again, facing a situation where someone had duplicated my assignment.

Lauren Goode: Can you specify which article you're referring to?

Reece Rogers: Essentially, I conducted an interview with a developer from Anthropic who works on Claude, aiming to deepen my understanding of how to utilize Claude. It felt somewhat recursive, like a serpent consuming its own tail, given that my piece on AI was condensed and summarized by an AI itself.

Michael Calore: It wasn't an act of plagiarism per se, given the precise criteria that define it. However, the identical words were used, arranged in the same sequence within the same context.

Reece Rogers: The content wasn't an exact replication, however, it significantly borrowed elements. Regardless of if it qualifies as plagiarism, it resembled the original too closely for my liking.

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I'm sorry, but you

Michael Calore: Absolutely, I can see that. So, did you reach out to Google?

Reece Rogers: Indeed, during a strained conversation with a Google official, there was some resistance to my points. However, they conceded that AI Overviews might replicate segments of content from websites. They clarified that, firstly, there is always a link to the original content, the sources are prominently featured, and only a minimal fragment of the web result is utilized if at all.

Michael Calore: Absolutely.

Reece Rogers: From my perspective, it felt as though a substantial section had been subtly altered. Much of the initial language and content remained intact. Consequently, I was somewhat disappointed, or to put it another way, far from excited. Additionally, it's worth mentioning that when this particular instance was brought to their attention, they essentially described it as a match in terms of ideas, asserting that it didn't serve as a substitute for the original text.

Lauren Goode: Thus, the argument is that by altering just a word or several, it's not merely replicating your text verbatim, but rather, it's embodying the core idea of it.

Reece Rogers: Essentially, they're saying it's a close call in their opinion. In my discussions with various copyright specialists, I've encountered a range of perspectives on the likelihood of success in any potential legal action against Google. One specialist highlighted the difficulty of asserting copyright claims over instructional materials compared to more inherently creative works, such as poems or screenplays. Yet, another expert mentioned the possibility of presenting the case to a jury to determine if the AI Overview closely resembles the content I originally created. Therefore, there's still a lot of uncertainty. With ongoing legal battles, there's a noticeable lack of definitive legal precedents concerning AI and copyright issues at this moment.

Lauren Goode: Google has long utilized information cards, and while I'm not exactly advocating on Google's behalf, I'm curious about the distinction. Specifically, how does viewing one of these snippets or information cards compare to, for example, featuring a paragraph from Reece's article at the forefront of the search outcomes?

Michael Calore believes that the highlighted excerpt is interactive, allowing for engagement through clicks.

Lauren Goode: Okay, I'll check that out right away.

Michael Calore: … simply tap on the outcome and it will take you straight to the cited source.

Lauren Goode: In this manner, can we consider chocolate to be good for health? How about

Michael Calore: Indeed.

Lauren Goode: Understood. Alright. The next topic is John Hopkins Medicine.

Michael Calore explains that when you perform a search and are presented with a featured snippet—a familiar sight for many years—it's straightforward to recognize that the highlighted text comes from an article. There's an obvious link right under the quoted text, and occasionally, this snippet might also include a photo or artwork from the original piece. This presentation suggests, "Here's a segment of the news article you were seeking, and you can click here to read it in full." On the other hand, AI Overviews give the impression that Google is directly providing the answer.

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Given your instructions, please provide

Lauren Goode: Exactly, it's phrased in a way that sounds more like natural conversation.

Michael Calore: Indeed.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely. This example obviously isn't. It's asking, "Is chocolate beneficial for health?" And then presents a segment, "Boosts cardiovascular well-being:"—followed by a rather formal pronouncement. It hardly suggests a robotic uprising.

Kate Knibbs expressed astonishment over the fact that Google, despite initially demonstrating a proficient approach through featured snippets, managed to introduce a less effective method and hailed it as a new innovation. She noted that if users were able to directly access Reece's original content through the AI Overview feature and it was clear that the content was directly sourced from his work, there wouldn't be any issues. In that scenario, the response might even be positive. However, Knibbs expressed skepticism regarding the fine line between plagiarism and originality. She mentioned that upon examining the similarities between the AI-generated summaries and the original articles, the claim that such summaries do not constitute plagiarism seems far-fetched, to the point of being unbelievable. She empathized with those who would feel aggrieved by this situation.

Michael Calore: Reece, I'm curious about something. When you had a look at the AI Summary of your article, was locating the link to your piece a straightforward task or did it present some challenges?

Reece Rogers: Scrolling was a necessity, that's for certain. The hyperlink to my piece was buried at the end of a lengthy 10-item bullet list. It wasn't even placed or mentioned right after the section that borrowed elements from my work. Instead, it was tucked away at the bottom, only visible after expanding the content. Moreover, for similar searches that didn't use the AI Overview feature, my article was prominently displayed as the top snippet, clearly showing the WIRED brand at the forefront. The title of my article was visible, making it straightforward to access. However, with the introduction of this new AI functionality, my article became obscured. The citation was significantly less noticeable. Therefore, even though the link remained, I find it hard to believe that the average user would bother to follow it anymore.

This functionality is designed to condense your articles into summaries. Once the summary is provided, there might be little incentive to continue reading, unlike the featured snippet, which only offers a brief section of the response. This could still encourage users to click through for more information. However, even if they don’t, the source of the snippet is clear. On the other hand, with AI Overviews, often there’s a lack of clarity about the origin of the information, especially for those seeking swift answers.

Michael Calore: Exactly. So, Lauren, Kate, Reece, what does this imply for what's ahead for us?

Lauren Goode: Are we in a therapy session? It feels like we're getting therapy from Google Search

Michael Calore: Alright. As journalists, our livelihood depends on attracting visitors to our website or our TikTok channel for information, but it appears this technology is complicating users' ability to discover our site.

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Unfortunately, you didn't provide

Lauren Goode: Absolutely. It seems like there's been a surge of narratives suggesting that the internet is making a comeback, which, to some extent, might stem from hopeful desires or forward-looking projections. Personally, I'm all for a more accessible and open internet. However, overall, this trend seems to have negative implications for the dissemination of news and the availability of reliable information.

Currently, numerous online news platforms are witnessing a decrease in their visitor numbers due to several factors. This topic alone is quite complex and would require more than just a single podcast episode to fully explore. In fact, we could dedicate a whole episode to it, assuming there's enough interest. It's a subject that's a bit niche and technical.

Michael Calore: My apologies, did I just unleash a profound question on the program?

Lauren Goode: Absolutely. I wonder if our Gadget Lab audience is really keen on delving into our business side. It's doubtful. However, it's something we ponder over quite a bit. Currently, several news platforms are witnessing a downturn in web traffic for various reasons. This scenario doesn't seem to be improving anytime soon. Reece, who just outlined his approach to service journalism including guides and tutorials, is agreeing as I speak. This type of content is proving to be quite beneficial; it's engaging a large audience, proving useful to many, and importantly, it's encouraging people to subscribe to our service.

It seems that, Reece, you've dedicated a significant amount of time and energy into conducting and sharing this analysis. When it comes to the AI Summary, if it's producing brief responses that slightly alter the phrasing and then places the actual source several clicks away, firstly, I'm skeptical that many individuals would be inclined to dig deeper. Secondly, even if they do, the chances of them landing on the original material seem slim. This scenario is just a drop in the ocean considering the countless instances we could discuss, but it hardly appears to be a positive outcome. Additionally, there's the advertising aspect to consider, which we can delve into during our second episode of existential dilemmas on Gadget Lab.

Reece Rogers: Many are curious about why I focus on AI Overviews by Google, given that other organizations are also developing comparable search technologies. For instance, Perplexity, a burgeoning startup, is delving into alternative methods of AI-powered web searching. However, the crux of the matter lies with Google's dominant influence. As a leading source of web traffic, Google wields significant power. A minor adjustment on their part can lead to a sudden decrease in website visitors for these publishers.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely.

Reece Rogers: I believe the root of the issue lies in Google's method of operation and its significant influence. This dominance is causing widespread alarm. While some might argue that the reaction is exaggerated, it's hard to dismiss these concerns outright. The lack of transparency from Google regarding metrics like click-through rates leaves us in the dark, making it difficult to form a definitive opinion. It seems we have no choice but to bide our time.

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Unfortunately, without the original text

Lauren Goode: Absolutely. It seems like the media landscape is changing at an astonishing pace.

Michael Calore: Absolutely.

Lauren Goode: The shift from print media to digital platforms was a gradual process. Moreover, the spikes in online news consumption I'm discussing from the recent three to five years were significantly influenced by events like the Covid pandemic, when there was a surge in demand for reliable news sources online. Similarly, during the Trump era, individuals seeking political news turned to reputable news websites. However, these trends have varied slightly in the last few years, leading to fluctuations in website traffic. It appears that a simple action could dramatically alter the way individuals find and access credible news content.

Michael Calore concurs.

Kate Knibbs expressed curiosity in observing the performance of health-focused news platforms, especially given that currently, AI Overviews are activated by less than 10% of Google searches. This implies a temporary safety for such content, unless the focus shifts to technology-related topics. Knibbs also suggested examining the influence on biotech reporting, as it could serve as an early indicator of the broader effects on the media sector, particularly in areas more prone to triggering AI Overviews.

Additionally, I must admit, the sole factor keeping me calm in this situation is my perspective as an everyday user who frequently conducts searches. I have a strong dislike for AI-generated summaries to the extent that I find myself hoping they won't become popular. Perhaps Google will reconsider and provide us with a search experience that aligns more with our preferences, one that doesn't rely on automated summaries of news articles. However, I'm not entirely sure about that possibility.

Michael Calore expressed hesitation, saying, "I

Kate Knibbs: Indeed.

Lauren Goode: I believe we're traditionalists and perhaps not reflecting the broader population. What's your take on this, Mike?

Michael Calore believes that they are quite popular among many individuals.

Kate Knibbs: Who's a fan? Who says, "AI Overviews are my favorite."

Lauren Goode is engaging with individuals at independent music locations in the Mission, as discussed by Mike.

Michael Calore: Absolutely, send us your thoughts.

Kate Knibbs: Are they fond of AI Summaries?

Michael Calore mentioned that he's spoken with a few individuals who believe they are beneficial and amiable, inviting them into their lives. To which he responds, "Wonderful, consider subscribing to WIRED."

Alright, it seems we need to pause once more since our conversation has extended beyond the planned time. Nonetheless, it's been an insightful, energizing, yet somewhat disheartening dialogue, so I appreciate everyone's contributions. I'd like to remind everyone that you can find Kate's article on the study that reveals the common occurrence of AI Overviews, as well as Reece's piece detailing his experience with AI Overviews replicating his work, both available on WIRED.com.

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Unfortunately, you didn't provide

Lauren Goode: Visit WIRED.com.

Michael Calore: Additionally, you'll discover Lauren's article, which features a conversation with Liz Reid, the leading authority on search at Google. You can locate all these references in the episode's detailed notes.

Lauren Goode: It seems as though that interview happened seven years back.

Michael Calore: However, it actually happened three weeks ago.

Lauren Goode: Much has transformed. A great deal has shifted.

Michael Calore: Okay, we'll return shortly.

Certainly! However,

Michael Calore: Alright, welcome back. We're now entering our recommendation segment where we invite everyone to share something they're currently loving that our audience may appreciate too. Kate, could you please kick things off for us?

Kate Knibbs: Absolutely. I've recently completed a book that I believe our audience will find captivating. Titled Token Supremacy, it's authored by Zachary Small, an art journalist at the New York Times. Small presents a lively and entertaining narrative on how the surge in cryptocurrency has transformed the art world into an almost unrecognizable spectacle. I strongly suggest giving it a read.

Michael Calore: Great. Has it been released already? Is this a recent publication?

Kate Knibbs: Indeed.

Michael Calore: Great.

Kate Knibbs: Yes, I believe it was released earlier this spring.

Michael Calore: Excellent choice. Reece, what do you suggest?

Reece Rogers: Balatro is this budget-friendly independent game released by Playstack that has captured my interest for several weeks. The best way to sum up its essence would be as a trippy take on traditional poker.

Michael Calore: Understood.

Reece Rogers: In every session, your objective is to gather jokers that come with odd, yet powerful enhancements, which in turn amplify your points. It's an unusual mix of strange and exciting. This game is the type I'd casually start playing with my headphones on, intending to play just a few rounds before sleep, and suddenly find it's 3 in the morning and I've completely lost track of time. Definitely give it a try. The game's name is Balatro, priced at only $15 and can be played on PC as well as on all the prominent gaming consoles.

Michael Calore: Similar to Switch, you mean?

Reece Rogers: Absolutely, without a doubt.

Michael Calore: Understood.

Reece Rogers: Pick that up for your Switch.

Michael Calore: Alright, Balatro. Appreciate it. That's a great suggestion. Lauren, how about you?

Lauren Goode: Your manner of saying that was humorous.

Michael Calore: Essentially, it's because I'm always in the dark about future events. I'm perpetually uncertain about what lies ahead.

Lauren Goode: Seems like I'll continue riding the wave of poetry, it appears.

Michael Calore: Understood.

Lauren Goode: Here we're discussing a publication titled Technelegy, a clever play on words blending 'technology' with 'elegy', penned by Sasha Stiles, a talented individual who merges her prowess in language arts with AI research. Interestingly, it was Kate who first made me aware of Sasha's work a few weeks back during an event hosted by the Internet Archive, an event both Kate and I attended. Fast forward to this week, and I find myself in the interesting position of interviewing Sasha at a different gathering in San Francisco. Technelegy brings together a mix of poetry and prose, with some pieces incorporating generative AI to either aid in the creation process or to craft language outright. Sasha's creations are captivating as they warmly welcome technological advancements while also hinting at a future that might seem a bit bleak and otherworldly. And despite its depth and the complex themes it explores, Technelegy is surprisingly digestible, compelling you to turn page after page.

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Michael Calore: Pleasant.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely. Thus, I endorse Technelegy.

Michael Calore: Impressive. It's a blend of adopting technology and forecasting a grim future, much like the series itself.

Lauren Goode: This might just be our fresh slogan, you know. I'm really feeling it. Let's refine this idea. Mike, what are your thoughts?

Michael Calore: I'd like to suggest a recent publication as well. The title is Neu Klang: The Definitive History of Krautrock, authored by Cristoph Dallach. The term 'Krautrock,' admittedly not the best label, has gradually become a beloved descriptor for the genre of music produced by German groups from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, and perhaps even after, though that's stretching it a bit, in my opinion.

Groups such as Can (and I'm always unsure of the correct pronunciation, spelled C-A-N), along with Kraftwerk, Faust, Neu!, are bands you're likely familiar with if eclectic rock piques your interest. This genre ranks high on my list of musical preferences, and the book in question serves as an extensive oral history of this music genre. The author conducted interviews with surviving members of the scene, along with key figures closely associated with it, including well-known personalities like Iggy Pop and Brian Eno. The result is a comprehensive and first-of-its-kind oral history that captures the essence of the Krautrock movement.

For those interested, the English language edition is currently accessible in the United Kingdom. I purchased my copy through Rough Trade and received it slightly ahead of schedule. However, for those in the United States preferring to hold off, the American release is scheduled for early August. Thus, it will be available this summer. Eager fans have the option to acquire it promptly by opting for international shipping. Conversely, Americans who prefer not to rush can simply wait.

Lauren Goode: Do you have dirty hands from the sauerkraut?

Michael Calore: Regarding the pickled cabbage?

Lauren Goode: Absolutely, fermented cabbage.

Michael Calore: It's merely due to the amount of ink from the numerous books I've been poring over.

Lauren Goode: Delightful.

Michael Calore: Indeed.

Lauren Goode: Thank you for your appreciation.

Michael Calore: Appreciate it. Okay, then, I want to express my gratitude to everyone. It was a wonderful conversation. I'm thankful to both of you for being with us this week.

Reece Rogers: I appreciate it.

Kate Knibbs: Appreciate the invitation.

Lauren Goode: Absolutely, the quintessential podcast response. I'm all for it.

Kate Knibbs: Is it time for me to begin acting impolit

Lauren Goode: No, that was perfect.

Kate Knibbs: You know what? Forget you guys, seriously. I'm not sure if I'm permitted to use that language.

Lauren Goode: We're keeping that.

Kate Knibbs: Only joking.

Lauren Goode: Indeed, that's correct.

Kate Knibbs: Understood.

Michael Calore: We appreciate everyone tuning in. Should you wish to share your thoughts, we're all accessible through AI Overviews. Simply look us up on Google. Our producer, the esteemed Boone Ashworth, has been instrumental in bringing this to you. Join us again next week for another episode. With Apple's WWDC on the horizon, make sure to return for our comprehensive discussion on everything Apple. Until that time, farewell.

[Outro music from Gadget Lab starts]

Explore Election Period Through Our WIRED Politics Lab Newsletter and Podcast

Unconvinced that breakdancing qualifies as an Olympic sport? The global champion shares your skepticism (to some extent).

Researchers decrypt an 11-year-old password, accessing a crypto wallet worth $3 million

The eerie emergence of the globe's inaugural beauty contest judged by artificial intelligence.

Ease the strain on your back: Discover the top office chairs we've evaluated.

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Michael Calore

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