Update 10/11/2023 10:00am ET: A Google spokesperson told MobileSyurp that, “We’re taking our time to bring SGE [Search Generative Experience] to regions carefully and responsibly, considering a number of factors. In the countries we haven’t yet expanded to, we’re working as quickly as possible to assess regulatory needs so we can bring generative AI in Search to more people around the world and improve their information journeys.”
Original story below…
Back in May this year, Google rolled out generative AI features to its search engine under Search Labs.
Generative AI in Google Search allows users to get smarter results faster, and generate images and texts from keywords or queries. Search Labs was initially available only in the US, but Google later expanded it to other regions. However, the availability and functionality of Search Labs remained limited. The functionality is now expanding to over 120 new countries, as part of its “largest global expansion yet,” though one Western country is missing from the list of regions that will get access to Search Labs: Canada.
For now, it remains unclear why Canada was excluded from the expansion. However, it may have something to do with the country’s strict privacy laws or regulatory hurdles. Canada might have also been excluded since Google’s Bard and other AI tools do not yet support French, one of Canada’s official languages.
It could also be something petty, like Google being unhappy about the Online News Act (Bill C-18). Bill C-18 aims to offer financial support to the Canadian news industry by requiring big tech companies, like Google, to pay Canadian media outlets for their content. Google’s main concern with Bill C-18 relates to what it describes as “uncapped financial liability,” given it’s unclear how much the company would need to pay news organizations.
Unfortunately, for now, it is unclear if or when Google’s generative AI features will be available here, and Canadians will have to play the waiting game.
In May, in an email statement, Google explained that it is rolling out its generative AI “gradually” and that it is working closely with experts and policymakers to ensure that Bard aligns with local requirements. Google also said that Bard is still in its early days and that it wants to roll it out “thoughtfully and responsibly,” as the technology is new and complex.
Other countries that don’t have access to Google’s generative AI include Russia, China, North Korea, Afghanistan and more.