December 9, 2023

Google is expanding access to its generative artificial intelligence-powered search experience, or SGE, opening it up to teens aged 13 to 17, the company said Thursday in a blog post. Beginning this week, if you’re between 13 and 17 and are signed in to a Google account, you can sign up for the company’s Search Labs, which will include access to SGE.

“Generative AI can help younger people ask questions they couldn’t typically get answered by a search engine and pose follow-up questions to help them dig deeper,” the company said in the post.

According to Google, users aged 18 to 24 who currently have access to SGE “are finding this experience especially useful. They’ve given us particularly positive feedback about how these capabilities make it possible to search for information in a more conversational, natural way, and ask follow-up questions.”

Both SGE in search and SGE while browsing can be turned on or off from the Google Search Labs home page.

From the use of the word “responsibly” in the post’s headline, it’s obvious that Google is aware that mixing AI and younger users could be controversial.

“As we introduce this new technology to teens, we want to strike the right balance in creating opportunities for them to benefit from all it has to offer, while also prioritizing safety and meeting their developmental needs,” the post said. 

It goes on to note that Google has built additional safeguards into the experience for teens.

“SGE’s quality protections are designed to prevent inappropriate or harmful content from surfacing,” the post reads. “For example, we’ve put stronger guardrails in place for outputs related to illegal or age-gated substances or bullying, among other issues. And as we gather even more feedback, we will continue to improve how our systems respond, working with experts along the way to better protect teens.”

In August, Google gave its Search Generative Experience a major update in the Google App and later in the Chrome web browser. SGE can summarize web pages and also show definitions of unfamiliar words.

In July, Google was one of four leading artificial intelligence companies, including Microsoft, to launch the Frontier Model Forum, an industry group aimed at identifying best AI safety practices and promoting its responsible use.

Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.

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