If ever there was a place we didn’t want to see AI unleashed it would be YouTube’s comments section. Google’s video-sharing platform is well known for having a chaotic environment where folks will comment on the video they’re watching (while casting aspersions on other commentators). Do we really need AI to explain what’s going on in there?
Turns out, the answer to that is ‘yes’. Google is conducting a small-scale experiment with some of its YouTube Premium subscribers that will net them an AI assistant devoted to navigating the vast world of YouTube more effectively. And yes, that includes the comment section.
Google, meet Skynet
But perhaps the move is a more sensible one that we’re making out. The new generative AI-powered features include summing up the comments section. At the very least, it should save you a few brain cells perusing it yourself. It allows users to organize “…large comment sections of long-form videos into easily digestible themes.”
There are sensible uses for this, Creators using the feature can jump to specific topics to interact but they can also moderate their comments and remove certain discussions or just specific comments. If the comments below a My Little Pony video have devolved into conversations about Hitler (a more common occurrence than you’d think), you can get rid of that little hive of scum and villainy easily.
It’s also possible to skip to conversations you’d like to have and filter out the rest of it. As long as Google’s AI doesn’t actually learn from these comment sections, we should be okay.
Watch the damned video
The other AI-powered feature is a chatbot capable of summing up the video and, perhaps, answering other questions about it. It’ll function as a recommendation tool as well, giving users directions to similar content to what is being shown. The company explains that “[f]or certain academic videos, the tool can aid learning journeys by providing quizzes and responses that encourage deeper understanding.”
That, at least, has the potential for sensible interactions, if only because you’re only really interacting with the AI. Even so, expect Google’s systems to have some teething troubles. It’s one thing to ask large language models to read. It’s another to make them watch videos on YouTube.
Still, it has to be done. If you’re a YouTube Premium subscriber, you might already have access to Google’s new AI features. Just head on over to this link to find out. The company does point out that “…[t]hese features are experimental and we may not always get it right,” so expect a little weirdness. That’s normal for YouTube anyway.