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Google 'considers charging' for premium search results powered by artificial intelligence

Google is considering charging users for "premium" internet search results powered by artificial intelligence (AI), according to a report.

The tech giant is said to be exploring several ideas about how to use the technology, including incorporating enhanced search tools as part of its premium subscription services.

Google's main search engine would remain free to use under the proposals, with additional content available to those who pay a fee, sources told the Financial Times.

Adverts would continue to appear alongside search results, even for subscribers, according to the report.

More than a billion people use the search tool every month, according to estimates.

Google already charges for some features such as extra storage space and its "AI Premium" service, which provides access to its new Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and Docs.

But this would mark the first time that any of the company's core products would be put behind a paywall.

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The Financial Times said it had been informed of the proposals by three sources at Google.

It said engineers have been working on developing the enhanced AI tools, but executives have yet to decide whether or when to launch the feature.

A spokesperson for the company told Sky News: "We're not working on or considering an ad-free search experience.

"As we've done many times before, we'll continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google."

They added: "We don't have anything to announce right now."

It comes amid intense competition between tech firms over AI and how to use it, with some commentators accusing Google of struggling to keep up with rivals such as ChatGPT.

Last month it emerged that the company had decided to restrict its AI chatbot Gemini from answering election-related questions in some countries due to concerns about the information being provided to users.

In February, Google also stopped the tool from generating images following complaints about "inaccurate" historical depictions of people.