Google SGE: Student guide
Google has rolled out a new generative artificial intelligence (AI) search engine that aims to “unlock entirely new types of questions you never thought Search could answer." These new search features will change how you digest, organize, and understand information. Google’s new search capabilities will revolutionize how you learn and bring you into a new era of understanding.
Google is taking the work out of searching, meaning that this new search should deliver information faster, uncover new perspectives, and move more efficiently. If you ask the new Google AI search a long question, AI will do all the heavy lifting by answering your longer questions and providing essential information and links surrounding your search. You will even have the option to ask follow-up questions relating to the topic you are exploring. According to Google, “Context will be carried over from question to question to help you naturally continue your exploration. You’ll also find helpful jumping-off points to web content and various perspectives you can dig into.”
Who has access?
Google is starting with an experiment in Search Labs called the Search Generative Experience or SGE, which is available in certain locations and specific languages. This ‘experiment’ takes place exclusively in English on the Chrome desktop and Google App in the U.S.. Through this soft launch, Google aims to “incorporate feedback and continue to improve the experience over time.”
SGE while browsing
In August 2023, Google launched an early experiment called SGE while browsing, available in the Google app, on Android, iOS and “coming to Chrome on desktop in the days ahead.” Google's motivation surrounding this SGE while browsing feature is to “get to the core” of what the user is looking for quickly and efficiently. According to Google, SGE while browsing is “specifically designed to help people more deeply engage with long-form content from publishers and creators, and make it easier to find what you’re looking for while browsing the web.” Perhaps you struggle to read long-form pieces of text, are tired of sifting through long research papers, or can’t find the source you have been looking all over the web for. Google states that certain pages will allow you to tap on an AI-generated compilation of key points featured throughout an article, with links that will take you to what you want to read. The added ‘Explore on page’ bonus allows you to see commonly asked questions related to articles and will enable you to jump to the relevant parts of the text.
Understand the terminology
Since its initial release, SGE has undergone some changes, and updates have been incorporated into the software. One of the updates is the hover feature, where you can “hover over certain words to preview definitions and see related diagrams or images on the topics.” Suppose you’re trying to learn about a STEM-related subject involving tricky terminology that’s difficult to understand. In that case, Google Search employs a hover feature that allows you to hover over the term and gives you further information.
Google is providing you with a helping hand to get started with coding or to develop your programming skills. The search engine has added features to SGE that make code more accessible to comprehend. According to Google, “SGE currently provides AI-generated overviews to help with tasks across several programming languages and tools.” An example Google provides is SGE’s ability to find answers to ‘how to’ questions and gain insights from suggested code snippets. The new update color codes segments of code with syntax highlighting “so it’s faster and easier to identify elements like keywords, comments, and strings” – thus aiding in your coding endeavors.
Google SGE can even create images with a generative AI-powered search experience. AI can create images from your imagination just by typing in an example of an idea you want to come to life. Just type “Einstein working on the next supercomputer” in the Google search, and AI will develop four iterations of that image. If you click on the image, you will see that artificial intelligence has adapted your search to add exciting details to the images. Adding more details to your search can allow your imagination to run wild. If you want a photorealistic version of Einstein, Google SGE will accommodate these changes and offer you the image you envisioned.
SGE can even craft drafts that help with your writing. Google states, "We’re introducing written drafts to SGE…you’ll be able to make the draft shorter or change the tone to be more casual.” Once the draft has been created, it is easily converted into Google Docs or Gmail
Privacy and safety
We all know that generative AI and large language models (LLM) have some setbacks and generate hallucinations from time to time. Google acknowledges this fact and claims that it has safeguards that aim to dispel harmful biases, violent behavior, and AI-generated unpleasant language. Since September, U.S. teens aged 13-17 can sign up for Search Labs to access specific Labs experiences through the Google app or Chrome desktop. Whether or not this is safe for young people is still debated; however, Google aims to "strike the right balance" in creating opportunities for teens to benefit from all that SGE has to offer "while prioritizing safety and meeting their developmental needs." Giving teenagers access to a service known to be unpredictable may be controversial. However, Google aims to roll out this new technology safely and responsibly. According to Google, "SGE's quality protections are designed to prevent inappropriate or harmful content from surfacing. For example, we've put stronger guardrails in place for outputs related to illegal or age-gated substances or bullying, among other issues."
How to use Google SGE for university?
The Google SGE features are an ideal tool for those studying complex computer science and information technology degrees. The search-as-you-browse feature, coupled with the natural, conversational nature of the LLM style, will inevitably make complex topics easier to digest.
Below, we have highlighted some key ways to use Google SGE to your advantage:
- The natural language conversational aspects of Google SGE make searching for information more accessible, especially if you are looking for research papers or searching STEM topics that require a deeper understanding.
- The hover feature lets you see descriptions and definitions of terms and language that may be hard to decipher. If your lecturer or professor has tasked you with a complex topic, SGE could help you digest this information in a way you can understand.
- SGE can help you learn and develop your coding skills by highlighting key features and giving examples related to your queries.
- Find the relevant information from long-form articles, research papers, and other applicable texts. Although the function will be limited to specific sites, you can gather relevant information from texts in an easy and accessible format. If you have a particular query or a topic you must research for the university, you can delve deep and get to the specifics. SGE will provide links to sources; you can even ask follow-up questions to help you understand information in depth.
- Create exciting and helpful visuals that you can incorporate into your projects.
Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm. Famous tech giants are adopting artificial intelligence to create unique experiences that are efficient and accessible. Google SGE is revolutionizing how we search by helping us locate the information we need, allowing us to digest information in a way we can understand, and encouraging our creativity.