Google CEO Says Creator-Focused AI Engines will ‘Emerge as Winners’

Google Music AI interview with Sundar Pichai
  • Save

Google Music AI interview with Sundar Pichai
  • Save
Photo Credit: Caleb George

Google I/O’s major theme this year was AI, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai saying he believes AI engines that drive creativity for creatives will emerge winners. The rest of us are a little more skeptical.

That’s because Google is rolling out its AI Overviews in Search, which aims to summarize search content directly. Google Search itself has become wildly inaccurate at fine-tuned queries, such as researching the difference between two instrument models or finding out local details about venues. The quality of Google search results in the last five years has declined precipitously and Google is about to push that off the edge with its AI overviews.

A recent study published by a team of researchers at Leipzig University, Bauhaus-University Weimar, and the Center for Scalable Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence agree that Google search has gotten worse over the last five years. The study looked at 7,392 product-review search terms over the course of a year on Google, Bing, and DuckDuck Go. The highest ranked pages were more optimized, featured more affiliate links, and in general featured lower-quality text.

While Google argues that the study only looked at the narrow field of product reviews, researching anything on Google has become an exercise in completing your search query with the word ‘reddit.’ The query ‘how to hook up my guitar to my pc reddit’ yields more useful results than the same query minus the word reddit. That’s why when Google rolls out its AI Overviews update it’s including a new ‘Perspectives’ section—which highlights human-generated results like those posted on reddit.

But the biggest change is how Google is going from indexing interesting content to summarizing the content—sharing the provided info without driving traffic. The News/Media Alliance has already put out a press release calling this feature “catastrophic to our traffic.” So what about the music generation tools that Google is working on?

Google CEO Sundar Pichai does not believe these tools are going to take from the creative community. “We have really taken an approach by which we are working first to make tools for artists,” Pichai says of those tools. “We haven’t put a general-purpose tool out there for anyone to create songs.”

“The way we have taken that approach in many of these cases is to put the creator community as much at the center of it as possible. We’ve long done that with YouTube. Through it all, we are trying to figure out what the right ways to approach this [are].”

When asked how Google intends to “bring value” back to creators who have their work lifted by AI—he becomes defensive. “Look. [sigh] The whole reason we’ve been successful on platforms like YouTube is we have worked hard to answer this question. You’ll continue to see us dig deep about how to do this well. And I think the players who end up doing better here will have more winning strategies over time. I genuinely believe that.”

The problem here is Google’s flagship core product—its search engine—has definitely gotten worse over the last three years. So how can anyone believe that the company who has worsened its best performing product to integrate AI while cutting out the sites it draws knowledge from—will not do the same with AI music generation tools?

Why bother with buying music from a stock marketplace when you can just AI generate the piece you need? Why pay an artist dollars for their time and work, when with Google, you can pay a machine pennies? Pichai’s answers here only generate more questions—especially as Google blindly rushes into the AI craze selling pickaxes to AI data miners.