YouTube Is Testing Generative AI To Answer Questions And Weed Through Comments

YouTube Hero 2
Google is testing a new feature on YouTube and, stop us if you've heard this one before, it's based on generative AI. Advanced machine learning algorithms and large language models are popping up in numerous products from Google, Microsoft, and almost every other tech company under the sun. This time, Google is leveraging a sometimes-accurate bot to glean useful information from the tangled web of comments and summarize elements of the video itself. All you have to do is ask.

The comment summary features will be the first element of Google's YouTube AI initiative. Instead of digging through the comments in search of serendipity, you can tap on the new "Topics" button to have the AI summarize the most interesting parts of the conversation. Google says that this summary is only based on published comments, not those being held for review.

Google is also planning to turn its AI loose on the videos. This more ambitious application of generative AI will be able to answer questions about the content of videos. There will be a conversational AI where you can pose your questions. Google seems more unsure how well this one will work. It's only going to enable the conversational AI tool on a subset of videos to start, and it won't be available immediately.

Generative AI systems like ChatGPT have shown an uncanny ability to ingest content and then produce nominally original text, images, and even computer code based on that data. In some cases, the output of generative AI is indistinguishable from that created by humans. Although, these machine learning algorithms don't technically know anything—they can create outright lies and justify them when pressed.

An example conversation with the new AI.

Companies like Nvidia and Google have strived to add guardrails to these new AI systems, but you'd be hard pressed to find even a single generative AI product that doesn't come with a prominent warning. Summarizing comments seems acceptably low-risk—the comment section on YouTube is famously terrible. Extracting details and summaries from a video, however, could introduce a lot more misinformation, and it's harder to scrub through a video to verify the AI output than it is to skim some text.

Google says the comment distillation features are available for testing today. YouTube Premium subscribers can check the YouTube experiments landing page to opt-in. The video summary and conversation features are still several weeks out, but they'll be accessed in the same way.