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Google Won’t Let You Ask Gemini AI About Upcoming Elections

The chatbot’s new restrictions apply to countries that will be holding top elections this year.

Photo of people casting ballots in voting booths
Photo by Edmond Dantès via Pexels

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Google announced on Tuesday that Gemini, the generative AI chatbot formerly known as Bard, is being tweaked to restrict answers about elections taking place anywhere in the world this year. 

I Voted! (With No Help from AI)

This year is unprecedentedly election-heavy worldwide, and the fact that this coincides with the upsurge in generative AI use has raised plenty of legitimate concerns. Still, if Google doesn’t trust Gemini to give you answers about your local election it begs the question: What is Gemini for? When ChatGPT and its generative AI brethren first burst onto the scene, it was common to speculate the bots would be replacing traditional search engines, or at least offering an alternative. 

Google, which has the most to lose if search engines were to go obsolete, has embraced this idea and even developed a specialized AI-powered search engine for medical records. However, Google’s cautious approach to Gemini around elections suggests it doesn’t really think the technology is quite there yet — at least, not when intense media attention and bad PR are in the cards:

  • The chatbot won’t only stonewall questions about the elections themselves, but also queries about political parties, candidates, and politicians, according to TechCrunch.
  • TechCrunch said the tweak is already live in the US and India, which both hold elections this year, and will soon roll out to other countries.

Loose Lips Sink Censorships: It’s possible the move is aimed at avoiding any legal trouble in countries with more draconian freedom of speech laws. Last month, Google got into a contretent with the Indian government after a journalist asked Gemini whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a fascist. The chatbot answered that Modi has been: “accused of implementing policies some experts have characterized as fascist.” Nothing says “I’m not a fascist” like clamping down on any mention you might be a fascist.