Google’s Gemini AI now refuses to answer election questions


Enlarge / The Google Gemini logo.

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Like many of us, Google Gemini is tired of politics. Reuters reports that Google has restricted the chatbot from answering questions about the upcoming US election, and instead, it will direct users to Google Search.

Google had planned to do this back when the Gemini chatbot was still called “Bard.” In December, the company said, “Beginning early next year, in preparation for the 2024 elections and out of an abundance of caution on such an important topic, we’ll restrict the types of election-related queries for which Bard and [Google Search’s Bard integration] will return responses.” Tuesday, Google confirmed to Reuters that those restrictions have kicked in. Election queries now tend to come back with the refusal: “I’m still learning how to answer this question. In the meantime, try Google Search.”

Google’s original plan in December was likely to disable election info so Gemini could avoid any political firestorms. Boy, did that not work out! When asked to generate images of people, Gemini quietly tacked diversity requirements onto the image request; this practice led to offensive and historically inaccurate images along with a general refusal to generate images of white people. Last month that earned Google wall-to-wall coverage in conservative news spheres along the lines of “Google’s woke AI hates white people!” Google CEO Sundar Pichai called the AI’s “biased” responses “completely unacceptable,” and for now, creating images of people is disabled while Google works on it.

The start of the first round of US elections in the AI era has already led to new forms of disinformation, and Google presumably wants to opt out of all of it.



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