At Google I/O 2023, Google unveiled a variety of AI-first developments. Among these was Project Tailwind, a cutting-edge note-taking tool crafted to leverage large language models to expedite learning. And today, Google is announcing that Project Tailwind is now being released under its new name: NotebookLM.
Google Labs’ NotebookLM represents Google’s vision to rethink note-taking software from the ground up, integrating a powerful language model at its core—hence, the name NotebookLM. It will be immediately available to a select group of users in the U.S. as they continue to refine and enhance the product.
Information = Insight
Today’s digital landscape is flooded with information and for most of us, it can be overwhelming. Students, educators, and professionals alike struggle to assimilate tie together facts and ideas from a variety of sources. Even when the required sources are at hand, building connections between all that data can be a difficult task.
In light of these types of challenges, Google has explored tools that could help to expedite the connection-making process within a virtual sea of data, focusing particularly on sources that actually matter to the end user.
NotebookLM is not your average AI notebook. It’s an interesting product, crafted to leverage the potential of language models coupled with your existing content to gain deep insights in quick fashion. Think of it this way: it’s like having a virtual research assistant at your disposal to summarize facts, explicate complex concepts, and brainstorm novel connections—all based on the sources you’ve chosen.
Unlike traditional AI chatbots, NotebookLM allows you to “ground” the language model in your notes and sources. This “grounding” technique effectively establishes a personalized AI that becomes adept in the information that matters most to you and leaves out the rest. For the time being, that “grounding” will start with Google Docs of your choosing, but more formats are soon to follow.
The Power of NotebookLM
Once you’ve selected your Google Docs you’d like NotebookLM to be “grounded” in, you can utilize it in three main ways:
- Summarize: Upon adding a Google Doc into NotebookLM, it instantly generates a summary, key topics, and suggested questions to enhance your understanding of the material.
- Inquire: Ready for a deep dive? Ask detailed questions about your uploaded documents. A medical student could upload a neuroscience paper and ask NotebookLM to “create a glossary of key terms related to dopamine.” An author could request a summary of all interactions between Houdini and Conan Doyle.
- Brainstorm: NotebookLM can assist users in creative idea formation, too. Content creators can request scripts for new video ideas. An entrepreneur could upload their pitch and ask, “What questions would potential investors ask?”
Although NotebookLM’s source-grounding should – in theory, at least – reduce model hallucinations, it’s essential to fact-check the AI’s responses against your original sources. Google is looking to simplify this process by supplementing each response with citations, highlighting relevant original quotes from your sources so you know exactly where the info is coming from at all times.
Building responsible AI
Built by a dedicated team in Google Labs, NotebookLM is an experimental product that Google claims has two primary goals:
- User-centric Product Development: We aim to regularly engage with users and communities to understand what works well and where improvements are needed, with the ultimate goal of making NotebookLM truly beneficial.
- Responsible Technology Rollout: Direct feedback from users is critical for responsible AI development. Google is committed to adhering to their AI Principles, implementing appropriate safety measures, and meeting strict safety criteria before expanding to more users and launching new features.
Google says that NotebookLM is designed to ensure the model only accesses the source material you choose to upload. Your interactions with the AI, as well as your files, remain private, and the data collected is not utilized to train new AI models. Your privacy and data security are being considered as top priorities and with this sort of tool, Google needs to be held to these sort of standards.
You can sign up to be on the waitlist here if this all sounds good to you, and I can imagine many of you seeing the direct potential that is already possible with NotebookLM. From students to teachers to lawyers to content creators, AI isn’t just a passing fad: it’s a part of our future whether we like it or not. Tools like NotebookLM are powerful examples of what considered, responsible AI development can mean to the world as a whole, and I know that I’m very excited to give it a try in the near future.