How to avoid AI in your Google searches

Artificial intelligence is everywhere you look right now, and Google hasn't been shy about pushing out a plethora of AI features across its various products. During the Google I/O 2024 event, the company announced that AI will start more prominent in search results, powered by a new search-specific version of the Gemini AI model.

Google has been testing AI results in search results for several months, but only for a select group of people. These features are now rolling out to everyone in the US, and will soon be available internationally. It means that for certain questions you will see an AI-generated answer before you get to web links.

For example, you might want to know the best places to take kids in Yosemite National Park. You could very well see a few suggestions created by AI before you see any travel websites (which Google's AI will have crawled and processed to come up with answers of course – Gemini has never actually been to Yosemite, or had children).

Maybe you prefer to stick with the knowledge gathered by humans, maybe you're not happy with the AI ​​slop now spreading across the internet, maybe you're concerned about the direction AI is going, or maybe you're just not . wanting to be duped by an AI hallucination. Whatever your concerns, it is possible to switch back to an AI-free search experience.

Go back to the internet

Change the default search engine in Chrome. Screenshot: Google

Google has indeed done that added a new web tab to the search engine page while simultaneously introducing these new AI features. You can find it after performing a search by clicking the button More tab at the top and then choose Web. You'll see the traditional list of links, without added chatbot responses.

To avoid having to manually switch to this tab every time, you can configure this type of Internet search as default. In Google Chrome:

  • Then click on the three dots (top right). Institutions And Search engine. (Note: If you use the Search engine option, click the hamburger menu at the top left.)
  • To elect Manage search engines and site searches.
  • Next Site searchClick Add
  • Enter “Google Web” as the name and “www.google.com” as the shortcut.
  • Place “{google:baseURL}/search?udm=14&q=%s” in the URL box.
  • Click Add to confirm your choice.
03 settings
Search engines can be edited in Settings. Screenshot: Google

Then you can click on the three dots to the right of your new search engine and then select it Make standard to set this as your default choice. That means it's always used when you perform a search from Chrome's address bar, for example.

If you use another browser, it should have a similar setting somewhere for changing your default search browser. Enter 'https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&udm=14' as your search string to immediately see results in the Web tab.

Change your search engine

screenshot from duckduckgo
DuckDuckGo is one of your alternative search engine options. Screenshot: DuckDuckGo

Of course, there is another option here: switching to a search engine not operated by Google. Perhaps the best-known alternative Microsoft Bingbut that's also currently packed with AI features, so it might not be the best choice if you want to get clear and simple search results from the web.

For a search engine experience that's clean and private, you care DuckDuckGo a try (there's a button on the front page you can use to set it as your default browser). Your searches are not tracked and while there are ads on the results page, they are not particularly intrusive or annoying.

Another search engine we think is worth checking out is Ecosia. The site uses the ad revenue from its searches to plant trees and protect ecosystems around the world, and it is very simple to use. Like DuckDuckGo, there is no user tracking and your results are presented on the screen in a clear and simple way.

Then there is Search courageously, which follows the same principles as the other two we mentioned: privacy and simplicity. Type in what you're looking for and you'll get a minimal, clean list of results (including a separate section for Reddit discussions, which is handy). Brave Search does indeed have an AI button, but you don't see any AI responses by default. You have to manually click on it to see generative AI text.

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