Generative AI comes to Google

About a month ago, I signed up for Google’s generative AI offerings: SGE (generative AI in Search) and Code Tips. I was accepted to the labs a few weeks ago, and, overall, it’s been a pretty positive experience.

SGE – Yet Another Acronym

I don’t really have any idea what SGE means, but it is essentially the generative AI component of search. The implementation is fairly intrusive: your search if fed into the generative AI, which processes and returns answers that show at the top of the page. Longer searches require you to click a button to submit the phrase to generative AI, but short searches are always submitted.

Why is that intrusive? Well, when the results are returned, they can take up nearly all of the screen real estate, pushing actual search results to the bottom. In most cases, I just want the search results, not the generative AI’s opinion on the matter. I would prefer having to submit the search to generative AI explicitly. What would be nicer is if there was a different submit button: type your search and hit “Submit to SGE” or something like that, at which point it will not only search, but also submit to SGE. A standard search, though, would remain the same.

As to accuracy: It’s about what I’ve seen from other tools, but nothing that really gets me overly excited. Truthfully, Google’s search algorithm tends to return results that are more meaningful than the SGE results.

Code Tips

Where SGE failed, Code Tips has succeeded with flying colors. These are the types of searches that I perform on a daily basis, and the Code Tips does a pretty good job.

For example, this search:

powershell create object array

returns the following suggestion from Code Tips:

$array = @()
$array += [pscustomobject]@{
  name = "John Doe"
  age = 30
$array += [pscustomobject]@{
  name = "Jane Doe"
  age = 25

Every Code Tip comes with a warning: use code with caution with a link to a legal page around responsible use and citations. In other words, Google is playing “CYA”.

Code Tips works great for direct questions, but some indirect questions, like c# syntax for asynchronous lambda function, return nothing. However, with that same search string, SGE returns a pretty good synopsis of how to write an asynchronous lambda function.

Overall Impressions

Code Tips.. A solid B+. I would expect it to get better, but, unlike GitHub CoPilot, it’s not built into an IDE, which means I’m still defaulting to “ask the oracle” for answers.

SGE, I can’t go above a C+. It’s a little intrusive for my taste, and right now, the answers it provides aren’t nearly as helpful as the search results that I now need to scroll to see.





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