back to article Google ponders making AI search a premium option

Google is reportedly considering tweaks to its search engine, including making some AI features subscription-only - an ad-free search experience is seemingly not on the cards. The Financial Times has reported that Google is debating internally whether to shift some AI-powered search features to premium subscriptions, which a …

  1. druck Silver badge

    AI - No thanks!

    If a premium option will keep AI out of free search, I'm all for it.

    1. Blogitus Maximus

      Re: AI - No thanks!

      Two tier searching will mean the premium will be useful and the 'free' will be crap.

      Stop using google for searching. Hell, stop using google period.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: AI - No thanks!

        The free is already crap. I find I'm using Google less and less these days, and it's not because of the insidious data fetishism. I think peak Google Search was maybe 2010ish? It's been steadily downhill for the last decade, for sure (and it seems painfully easy to game by those shitty sites that try to redirect you to the less salubrious parts of the internet, and might even have succeeded if my blocking didn't tell it to piss off).

        Icon (industrial hazard) because shit with added still shit.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: AI - No thanks!

          I have been unreasonably irked today on multiple occasions, by Google's habit of randomly ignoring words I put in my search term.

          "Searching for A B C, click here to search with C" - yes you moronic search engine, that would be WHY I included "C" in my query... grrrrr...

          So, yeah. With you on this. Google, like everything else, has become enshittified.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: AI - No thanks!

      Exactly. "Premium" is just another word for "opt in". And "haha fuck no" is another phrase for "no thanks".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ONLY "premium" I'd want is no ads.

    Simples. Happily pay £10/month personally, and would advise my boss that £20/person/month is worthwhile

    Thing is, I can't trust Google not to "enhance" the premium offer with "selected" adverts even if I am paying.

    1. hedgie Bronze badge

      Re: The ONLY "premium" I'd want is no ads.

      Adverts are only part of the problem. SEO spam and enshittification are what make search in general increasingly useless. I'm tending to have better luck with aggregators than any single engine these days.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: The ONLY "premium" I'd want is no ads.

      Adverts I can tolerate as long as they're clearly marked and unobtrusive.

      What I don't agree with is the behind the scenes tracking, profiling, and endless data fetishism "because the technology allows it to be done". Fuck that noise, don't subscribe, just walk away. They're not the only search engine around, and I'm sure before long the contemporaries will also have bolt-on AI...

    3. Autonomous Comrade

      Re: The ONLY "premium" I'd want is no ads.

      It's not quite the same (although I prefer it) - but I pay kagi $10/month for ad-free search. Might be worth a look?

  3. rgjnk

    Good luck

    People don't even want this for free, so good luck trying to charge for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good luck

      “Skin me, Brer Fox, snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots, and cut off my legs,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Good luck

      It's entirely possible that demand will rise if they start charging. Years ago when I was on the board of a non-profit, someone claimed that charging a small amount for a service that we could provide for free gave it credibility in potential users' eyes, and they'd be more likely to use it. That seemed to be subsequently borne out by experience.

      In essence, charging money for something can be a form of value signaling to the market. It's sort of the small-scale version of a Veblen good.

      1. hedgie Bronze badge

        Re: Good luck

        That does seem to be a psychological thing where we're at least trained to think that there's always a nasty catch when we get "something for nothing". Yet people still sign up in droves for "free" services where they're the product not the customer. That dissonance really disturbs me because it's there, but I don't understand it in the least.

  4. captain veg Silver badge

    Now we know

    That's why the quality of search results has gone so far downhill so fast so recently. To encourage payment for a return to the status quo ante. So-called "AI" is just the ostensible justification.


  5. glennsills

    Great Idea

    I love this idea! I hate it when I get introduced to AI and I haven't asked for it. If I have to pay for it I will not have to endure it.

    1. Blogitus Maximus

      Re: Great Idea

      It'll be great right up until you realise the results are poor.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Great Idea

        Shrug. They're poor now. They're still faster in most cases than going to the library and grubbing through the Reference section.

        Not that I oppose the latter option, mind you — I largely agree with Krakauer about competitive cognitive artifacts, and with Carr about acquired stupidity. And I have several shelves of reference books behind me that I frequently consult, and a lot more in softcopy. But there's an occasion for real research, and an occasion for "just remind me of something I already know".

        Of course, for the latter, regular keyword search is far superior to conversational interaction with an LLM. Agrawala did a good ACM presentation on why conversation is a lousy UI. Chatting with machines is not a good way to get work done, and significantly misunderstands why and how humans use natural language. (I agree with Davidson and Rorty on how natural language works.)

  6. HarryBl

    Excellent news. Now if they'd just make the regular search verbatim by default...

  7. ThatOne Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thanks a lot!

    > Google ponders making AI search a premium option

    Yeah!!! Champagne all around (or whatever you fancy, I don't like the stuff either)!

  8. tin 2

    "AI enhanced".... "premium".... hahahahah oh go on tell another!! :)

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