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Google Unveils Google-Extended – Enhancing Control Over Bard and Vertex AI with Robots.txt

In an ever-transforming digital landscape, Google has taken a significant leap toward enhancing web publishers autonomy by introducing Google-Extended, a novel “standalone product token.” The primary objective behind this launch is to provide web publishers with a newfound ability to regulate Bard and Vertex AI’s access to their website content, symbolizing Google’s commitment to transparency, choice, and control.

  • Google-Extended Emerges: An Empowerment Tool

    September 2023 witnessed a pivotal moment in the digital realm with Google’s introduction of Google-Extended. This tool empowers website administrators, giving them the authority to dictate whether Bard and Vertex AI should be allowed access to the content on their websites. This move stems from a profound “public discussion” Google initiated in July, which included a broad spectrum of stakeholders, ranging from web publishers to civil society and academia representatives. The goal was to unravel the intricacies of choice and control regarding web content.

  • The Key Players: Bard and Vertex AI

    Before diving into Google-Extended’s capabilities, it’s crucial to grasp the pivotal role of Bard and Vertex AI. Bard represents Google’s conversational AI tool, while Vertex AI is the platform for constructing and deploying generative AI-powered search and chat applications. These components together form the bedrock of Google’s AI ecosystem.

  • Google-Extended in Action: Empowering Web Publishers

    Google-Extended, in essence, is a “standalone product token” designed to furnish a marketing agency or web publishers with the means to take charge of their sites’ contribution to enhancing Bard and Vertex AI generative APIs. This encompasses the existing models and extends to future generations of AI models that power these products. The core idea is to give website administrators the control to determine how much they wish to assist these AI models in becoming more precise and capable over time.

  • Robots.txt Integration: A Mechanism for Blocking Google-Extended

    An integral facet of Google-Extended’s implementation is its seamless integration with robots.txt, a protocol that’s been a cornerstone of web administration for years. Website administrators can utilize robots.txt to govern Google Extended’s access to their website content or specific sections.

    To comprehensively block Google Extended, administrators merely need to append the following lines to their website’s robots.txt file:

    Copy code:

    User-agent: Google-Extended
    Disallow: /

  • A Glimpse into Google’s Perspective: Navigating Complexity

    Google acknowledges the ever-increasing complexity web publishers face in managing diverse uses of AI at scale. As AI applications advance, the demand for simplified and scalable controls becomes increasingly vital.

  • Debating the Role of Robots.txt

    The use of robots.txt to control data usage in AI models has sparked a noteworthy debate within the digital community. Some argue that there are better solutions than robots.txt for managing data usage in Large Language Models (LLMs) and AI applications. Nevertheless, Google’s commitment to empowering web publishers through Google-Extended underscores its belief in the importance of affording web publishers the power to make informed choices and exercise control.

  • AI and Web Publishers Collaboration

    Google Extended highlights the growing trend of collaboration between AI developers and web publishers. It’s no longer just a one-way interaction where AI systems scrape data from websites. Instead, it’s becoming a more cooperative relationship where web publishers have a say in how their content is used to train and improve AI models.

  • Customizability

    This new product underscores the importance of customizability regarding AI integration. Website administrators can now fine-tune how much access they want to provide, allowing for a more personalized approach based on their needs and concerns.

  • Privacy and Data Control

    Google Extended aligns with the broader conversation around privacy and data control. It reflects Google’s recognition of the importance of letting website owners control how their data is used in AI training and development.

  • Competing Approaches

    The mention of the debate around robots.txt as a mechanism for controlling AI access to web content is noteworthy. Some experts argue that while it’s useful, there might be more advanced or nuanced methods for regulating AI access, such as granular consent management systems. This discussion could lead to further innovation in data control mechanisms.

  • Transparency and Trust

    This initiative reinforces Google’s commitment to transparency and trust in AI. By giving web publishers the tools to regulate AI access, Google aims to build trust within the ecosystem and reassure users that AI systems are being developed responsibly.

  • Ethical Considerations

    The introduction of Google-Extended also opens up discussions about the ethical implications of AI training on web data. It prompts questions about what types of content should be included or excluded, how consent should be obtained, and the broader ethical framework for AI data usage.

  • Enabling Innovation

    Google-Extended could foster more innovative and responsible AI applications by allowing website administrators to be more selective about the data they share. This may lead to the development of AI systems that are better aligned with the goals and values of website owners.

  • Monitoring and Enforcement

    An important aspect to consider is how Google plans to monitor and enforce the use of Google Extended. Ensuring that web publishers’ choices are respected and that no misuse of the access granted will be crucial.

  • User Education

    With this new tool, there is a need for educational resources for web publishers. Google could provide guidelines and best practices for using Google Extended effectively, maximizing its benefits while addressing potential concerns.

  • Future Developments

    As AI technology evolves, Google-Extended might see further refinements and enhancements. It will be interesting to watch how web publishers and the broader AI community respond to this tool and whether it becomes a model for data control in AI development.

Google-Extended’s introduction is a significant development in the evolving relationship between AI technology and web publishers, emphasizing the importance of consent, control, and transparency in the digital landscape.

Before the launch of Google Extended, numerous websites had already exercised the option to block GPTBot, OpenAI’s web crawler, from accessing their content. Google’s latest offering allows website administrators to make well-informed decisions regarding their participation in enhancing Google’s AI products.


Google’s unveiling of Google-Extended represents a pivotal step towards bridging the gap between AI technology and web publishers. This move signifies Google’s commitment to providing website administrators greater autonomy, control, and transparency in regulating AI access to their content. It introduces a new era of collaboration, allowing web publishers to customize their engagement with AI models, which reflects the evolving landscape of data privacy and ethical AI development.

Integrating Google-Extended with robots.txt brings up discussions about existing mechanisms’ role in controlling AI access, with some advocating for more advanced solutions. The ethical considerations surrounding AI data usage are also in the spotlight, as this development prompts conversations about responsible AI training and content consent.

The ongoing evolution of Google-Extended and similar initiatives will likely lead to further refinements, best practices, and user education. As AI technology advances, empowering web publishers to make informed choices and exercise control over their data’s use in AI models is a testament to the ever-changing digital ecosystem. This initiative underscores the importance of trust, transparency, and ethical data practices in developing AI technology.