YouTube tests AI-generated video summaries

You'll only see the text in some situations.

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The next internet video summary you see might not have been written by a human. YouTube is testing AI-generated video summaries that appear on search and watch pages. The text is meant to provide a "quick overview" of a clip to help you decide if it's worth watching. The company is quick to stress that these don't replace creators' own video descriptions.

The test will only be visible with a "limited number" of English-language videos, and only for some viewers. In a statement to Engadget, a YouTube spokesperson says the summaries will appear on mobile devices for how-to videos, shopping videos and vlogs. You'll see the videos worldwide.

YouTube has given users a few preview features in recent weeks, as Android Police explains. Premium subscribers could lock the screen during playback to prevent accidental commands. You've also had the option to turn Shorts comments into entirely new short-form clips.

The experiment comes nearly three years after YouTube started testing AI-produced video chapters, but it's part of a larger generative AI push at Google. The tech giant has introduced its Bard chatbot and is using the technology to produce everything from spreadsheet templates to whole news articles, if not always for public consumption.

The YouTube summary feature may be one of the more logical extensions, however. The service says over 500 hours of content are uploaded every minute — it would be impossible for humans to keep up. The question is whether or not the AI summaries are accurate enough. Google has warned that generative systems like Bard may be prone to inaccuracies and misinformation, and it's not yet clear how well the YouTube experiment works in practice.

Update 8/1 11:48AM ET: We've updated the story with a statement from YouTube on where you'll see the summaries, including countries, platforms and video types.