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Google’s NotebookLM is now an even smarter assistant and better fact-checker

Google is updating its NotebookLM writing assistant with improved performance and new features, among other things. It now runs on the company’s Gemini 1.5 Pro model, the same AI that powers the Gemini Advanced chatbot. 

Thanks to this functionality, the assistant is more contextually aware, allowing you to ask “questions about [the] images, charts, and diagrams in your source” in order to gain a better understanding. 

Although Gemini 1.5 Pro is part of NotebookLM, it’s unknown if this means the AI will accept longer text prompts or create more detailed answers. After all, Google’s AI can handle context windows of up to a million tokens. We reached out to the tech giant to ask if people can expect to see support for bigger prompts.

Prompts will mostly stay the same, although they’ll now provide inline citations in the form of encircled numbers. Clicking on one of these citations takes you directly to supporting passages inside source documents. That way, you can double-check the material to see if NotebookLM got things right. 

AI hallucinations continue to be a problem for the tech, so it’s important that people are able to fact-check outputs. When it comes to images, opening the citation causes the source picture to appear in a small window next to the text.

(Image credit: Google)

Upgraded sourcing

Support for information sources is expanding to now include “Google Slides and web URLs” alongside PDFs, text files, and Google Docs. A new feature called Notebook Guide is being added, too. What this does is give you the opportunity to rearrange the data you enter into a specific format like a series of FAQs or a Study Guide. It could be quite handy.

The Guide sees other changes being made, though they’re not included in the initial announcement. For instance, you can have up to 50 different sources per project, and each one can be up to 500,000 words long, according to TheVerge. Prior to this, users could only have five sources at once, so it’s a big step up. 

Raiza Martin, who is a senior product manager at Google Labs, also told the publication that “NotebookLM is a closed system.” This means the AI won’t perform any web searches beyond what you, the user, give it in a prompt. Every response it generates pertains only to the information it has on hand.

NotebookLM’s latest update is live now and is rolling out to “over 200 countries and territories around the world.” You can head over to the AI’s official website to try out the new features. But, do keep in mind that NotebookLM is still considered to be experimental and you may run into some quirks. TheVerge, for instance, claimed the URL source function didn’t work in their demo. However, in our experience, the tool worked just fine.

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best business laptops for 2024, if you plan on using the assistant at work.

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