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Google adds more context and AI-generated photos to image search

Photos on the search engine will soon include an "about this image" option.

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Google is adding some new features to its image search function to make it easier to spot altered content, the company announced at its I/O 2023 keynote Wednesday. Photos shown in search results will soon include an "about this image" option that tells users when the image and ones like it were first indexed by Google. You can also learn where it may have appeared first and see other places where the image has been posted online. That information could help users figure out whether something they're seeing was generated by AI, according to Google.

For example, you'll be able to see if the image has been on fact-checking websites that point out whether an image is real or altered. Vice President of search Cathy Edwards told Engadget that the tool doesn't currently tell you directly if an image has been edited or manipulated, though the company is researching effective ways of detecting such tweaks.

The new feature will show up by clicking the three dots on an image in Google Image results. Google did not say exactly when the new feature will be available, besides that it will launch first in the United States sometime in the "coming months." Those images will include a markup in the original file to add context about its creation wherever its used. Image publishers like Midjourney and Shutterstock will also include the markup.

Google Search seems to be going all-in on AI. The company announced its Search Generative Experience that gives an AI summary of results and other information on search, upcoming products like the "Perspectives" tab in search that highlights forum and social media posts and other developments that you can test out in Google's Search Labs. Google's efforts to clarify to users where its search results come from started earlier this year with efforts like "about this result."

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2023 right here.