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I Don’t Want To Spend My One Wild And Precious Life Dealing With Google’s AI Search

Google's AI search has come for me

Google’s AI search has arrived, uninvited, to my browser, and I cannot make it leave. It isn’t just that it serves me crap whenever I enter a question into my search bar, but that I have to wait for all the crap I don't want in the first place.

Let me tell you a story from my day: I was paying invoices, and I wanted to doublecheck that the number of episodes of our podcast, Aftermath Hours, squared with what our producers had billed for. I typed “Aftermath hours spotify” into my browser window, which–depending when I’ve last cleared my history–either autofills the URL for the podcast on Spotify or takes me to Google search results, where our Spotify page is the top result. But now, when I get Google, I have to wait through a nearly three-second pause before AI information about the podcast appears at the top of the page, followed by a link to Spotify and other results. While I appreciate that, in this instance, the AI-generated information about the podcast is correct, this information is not what I’m looking for, and I have to wait three seconds for it to show up just so I can ignore it.

These three seconds are wrecking me. I’m not one of those lifehacking types who wants to optimize every bit of their day, but that three second wait is just enough friction that I notice it every time. It’s a small annoyance in the moment, but over the course of a day’s queries–any writer or editor can tell you that the number of weird searches you do adds up–that friction starts to build into a drag. I feel like I’m losing chunks of my one and only life waiting for bullshit I didn’t ask for and don’t want to load onto my screen so I can scroll past it. That's something I already deal with when visiting the ad-laden websites Google search brings up; I don’t need a preview! It makes the already unpleasant experience of Google search even worse than it already is.

Before some stray AI evangelist leaps into the comments to promise the tech will get better, I want to be clear that even if it were instantaneous, I still wouldn’t want it. I didn’t ask for results from the plagiarism machine! My Aftermath colleagues aren’t getting it, so I assume it’s just rolling out to more people this week on the back of Google’s I/O conference. 

I should, apparently, be able to get around all this by selecting “web” results from the “more” dropdown, but I’m not seeing that option yet–and I assume I’d still have to wait for the AI results to load first. All the instructions for how to disable AI search presume I opted into it, which I very much did not. Plus, Googling “how do I turn AI search off” still gives me AI results; while its answers square with what actual websites tell me, it’s a real 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe. 

In lieu of being able to turn it off, I’ve been trying to race the AI results, clicking “search” and then scrolling as fast as I can down the page before the AI text appears. While this adds some excitement to my day, it also adds more stress and time crunch to a life that’s already full of it. I don’t want this! I don’t need this. Life is too short.

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