With Google investing heavily in generative AI it was just a matter of time before it started adding AI features to YouTube, and last night it announced exactly that. The streaming service is testing some new experimental features, which will appear on the YouTube accounts of selected users.
Google says it's a small experiment so it's only going to reach a relatively limited number of people for the time being; it's going to be tested with Premium members in the US first, so if you're interested you can find out more at YouTube.com/new.
There are two key features here: Comment Topic Summaries and Conversational AI.
What do YouTube's AI features do?
The features are boldly going where many humans fear to tread: the comments. Comment Topic Summaries is a toggle that enables you to get an overview of what people are saying without having to scroll through hundreds or even thousands of posts. You'll still see comments as normal, but when you tap on the Topics button you'll see short two-line summaries of the key things being said. For example, under a music video you might have topics praising the video, praising the song, complaining that it's not as good as the old stuff, wondering what the lyrics are and so on.
Crucially, given we're talking about YouTube here, the tool is also designed to help video creators tame the topics. Creators can remove comments from the topics, and the topics won't display posts that are held for review, that contain blocked words or that have been posted by blocked users.
Conversational AI is another way of getting information, enabling you to ask straightforward questions and get straightforward answers. You'll be able to ask for more information about the video, for recommendations of similar content, and if the video is an academic one you might even be offered a quiz or extra detail.
As ever with experimental features, these new tools are not ready for prime time yet: if you're one of the people selected to be part of the experiment, expect weirdness, bugs and all the other joys of unfinished features. But it's an interesting glimpse of how AI can deliver practical tools to make everyday sites that little bit more useful.