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Google restricts election-related queries for its Gemini chatbot

Google is restricting election-related searches for its Gemini chatbot. The modifications have already been implemented in the US and India, where citizens will vote this spring.  

“Out of an abundance of caution on such an important topic, we have begun to roll out restrictions on the types of election-related queries for which Gemini will return responses,” Google said in a blog post published on Tuesday. “We take our responsibility for providing high-quality information for these types of queries seriously, and are continuously working to improve our protections.” 

A Google spokeswoman told CNBC that the modifications are consistent with the company’s intended approach to elections.  

“As we shared last December, in preparation for the many elections happening around the world in 2024 and out of an abundance of caution, we’re restricting the types of election-related queries for which Gemini will return responses,” a spokesman for Gemini said. 

The announcement comes after Google removed its artificial intelligence picture production tool last month following a series of issues, including historical mistakes and divisive responses. The picture generator was first unveiled in February as part of a major rebranding effort by Google through Gemini, the company’s core suite of AI models.  

“We have taken the feature offline while we fix that,” Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s DeepMind, stated last month at a panel at the Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona. “We are hoping to have that back online very shortly in the next couple of weeks, few weeks.” He also stated that the device was not “working the way we intended.” 

The disclosure comes as tech platforms prepare for a massive year of global elections that will influence up to four billion people across more than 40 countries. The proliferation of AI-produced material has raised severe election-related misinformation worries, with the amount of generated deepfakes increasing by 900% year on year, according to statistics from machine learning startup Clarity.  

Election-related misinformation has been a big issue since the 2016 presidential campaign, when Russian actors sought to use inexpensive and simple methods to propagate erroneous content throughout social media. Lawmakers are now much more concerned about the rapid emergence of AI

“There is reason for serious concern about how AI could be used to mislead voters in campaigns,” Josh Becker, a California Democratic state legislator, told CNBC last month in an interview.  

The detection and watermarking methods used to detect deepfakes have not improved fast enough to maintain pace. Even if the platforms behind AI-generated photos and movies agree to include invisible watermarks and certain sorts of metadata, there are methods to circumvent those safeguards. At times, screenshotting can fool a detector. 

on recent months, Google has emphasized its commitment to developing and investing extensively on AI assistants or agents. The word is commonly used to describe a variety of technologies, including chatbots, coding assistants, and productivity tools.  

During Alphabet’s earnings call on January 30, CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted AI agents as a priority. Pichai stated that he eventually intends to give an AI agent that can accomplish more and more activities for a customer, even within Google Search – but he acknowledged that there is “a lot of execution ahead.” Similarly, CEOs from corporate behemoths such as Microsoft and Amazon reiterated their commitment to developing AI agents as productivity tools. 

Google’s Gemini redesign, app rollouts, and feature expansions were a first step toward “building a true AI assistant,” according to Sissie Hsiao, a vice president at Google and general manager for Google Assistant and Bard, on a February call with reporters.  

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