‘Eat One Small Rock Per Day’: How to Turn Off Google’s Bizarre AI Search Answers

Google’s new generative AI search results aren’t quite there yet. Here’s how to disable them.
Google's new AI feature has some issues.
Google's new AI feature has some issues. / SOPA Images/GettyImages

There may eventually come a time when humanity is comfortably co-existing with AI, but that day is not today. Case in point: Google’s new AI Overviews, a feature that generates answers to search queries. So far, it has advised eating rocks and making glue part of your pizza recipe. Worse, Google doesn’t give users the option of disabling it.

Fortunately, there’s a way to kick the can down the road and deal with AI Overviews’s inane and cognitively-haywire approach another time.

How to Disable Google’s AI Overviews

According to The Verge, you can avoid AI Overviews fairly easily by tapping into your browser’s settings. If you have Chrome, do the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Search Engine > Manage Search Engines and Site Search
  2. Under Site Search, select Add
  3. Choose a nickname, keyboard shortcut, and then paste the following: {google:baseURL}search?q=%s&udm=14
  4. Save, then make it the default

Google should now load without AI Overviews.

The workaround comes courtesy of tenbluelinks, which also has instructions for Firefox and mobile device browsers.

If messing with your browser settings appears daunting, you can avoid AI Overviews on a case-by-case basis. On the Google results page, click the More tab, then Web. That should filter results so they display only sites that match your search query.

What’s happening with Google’s AI Overviews?

Google debuted AI Overviews in mid-May as a way to summarize search results in what was purported to be a time-saving feature for users “who don’t have time to piece together all the information” needed. (The foundation for the feature is Gemini, the company’s proprietary AI language software.)

Quickly, users reported receiving a variety of answers that lacked common sense, including one result that recommended mixing harmful household cleaners that would produce toxic fumes. The aforementioned “advice” about putting glue on pizza or using rocks as a source of nutrients was possibly sourced from satirical web content; Gemini may require further tutoring when it comes to sarcasm.

A Google spokesperson told The New York Times some of the sillier results may have been doctored or the result of “uncommon queries.” Tech pundits have observed that Google has no choice but to advance AI capabilities to keep up with the current AI arms race happening across all technology platforms. You may, however, choose not to be conscripted into the conflict. 

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