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2023 in Review: Generative AI Everywhere (plus free image editing tools)


The launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 triggered a rush for all the big tech companies to launch generative-AI tools. Some were likely already in development, like Google’s “Smart Replies” in various products. Others may quietly disappear once the novelty wears off.

This also seems to be connected to the new availability of a few new free web-based graphic design platforms, which I love.

The current generation of AI text tools seems to be useful for brainstorming, generating ideas and pulling concepts out of longer texts. They aren’t great for generating content that requires accuracy, and even summaries of existing texts are often riddled with errors. It’s quite clear that AI doesn’t really understand anything.

Unfortunately the new tools are fast and easy to use to generate plausible-looking, but incorrect text. And that is being used by spammers, dubious SEO experts, and lazy folks to post tons of low quality text. It’s not clear how Google, Bing and other search engines are going to be able to deal with this in the long term.

Google’s Search Guidelines allow automatically generated content, as long as it meets the other requirements (EEAT is the watchword: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, trustworthiness). Google says its automated systems can detect spammy content, but it seems like an arms race. Hopefully the AI-generated spam doesn’t win.

Opting your content out of AI training

Large Language Models (LLMs) are trained on vast quantities of content, much from publicly available content on the internet.

In July, Google proposed that the “web and AI communities” should work together to develop a new machine-readable way to control access to sites for AI training and research. So far, nothing public has come out of that.

So if you don’t want your blog or website to be used for AI training, you can currently opt out by updating the site’s robots.txt file or meta tags.
Note that there are other web crawlers that might not respect those settings. It also doesn’t affect existing trained AI models.

Google’s AI-Powered Tools (and how to try them)

Just a few weeks ago Google announced Gemini, their “largest and most capable AI model”. Gemini powers (or will power) many of Google’s AI-powered features.

Not surprisingly, many of Google’s AI-powered tools are still labeled “Experimental”. Use at your own risk!

Google’s chatbot is Bard (which I tried when it first launched), which you can try at Add extensions to let Bard help you make travel plans, get answers from YouTube videos, and even summarize and pull answers from your Gmail, Drive and Docs files.

Google’s NotebookLM ( lets you create “notebooks” with Google Docs, PDFs or other text. It can then auto-generate summaries or answer questions about the content.

And as this is Google, they are also experimenting with AI-powered search result overviews. Opt in to SGE (AI summaries and image generation in Search) or SGE while web browsing (AI summaries of web pages) to see it in action. Enable SGE at

Google also has a suite of AI-powered tools for Google Workspace called Duet AI. If you have a personal Google Account you can sign up for Workspace Labs to try many of those features for free. Sign up for Workspace Labs at

Current Workspace Labs AI-powered features include:
  • Google Docs: Draft documents, generate ideas, summarize documents, rewrite text, create images.
  • Google Drive: Summarize files, ask questions about your files, pull data from your files.
  • Gmail: Draft messages, summarize an email thread, get suggested responses, find information in your emails.
  • Google Slides: Generate images or slides, remove image backgrounds, write or rewrite content, access your Drive and Gmail files.
  • Google Sheets: “Help me organize” (create a travel planner or task tracker), “smart fill” to make manual text processing easier, summarize the data, create tables, create formulas.
  • Google Meet meetings: Create a background image, use “Studio Look” to “fix issues created by low light or low quality webcams”.
Google Workspace Enterprise customers with a Duet AI subscription may have access to additional AI-powered features in Docs, Gmail, Drive, Slides, Sheets, and Meet.

Google Photos has a number of new AI-powered tools. Many of these tools are limited to Pixel devices or require a Google One subscription.
  • Magic Editor and Magic Eraser lets you remove, move and resize objects in your photos, and improve the lighting and background.
  • Audio Magic Eraser automatically removes background noise from video.
  • It uses AI to group similar photos into Photo Stacks and can create a “Best Take” using the best face from multiple takes of group photos.
  • Use AI to suggest titles for your Google Photos Memories.
  • Automatically create a Highlight Video of an event, theme, person and more, and the images and video clips will be automatically synced to music. (This isn’t touted as being “AI-powered”, but it has that feel.)
  • And it has improved categorization of screenshots and document images.
YouTube has announced a number of AI-powered tools that will be available over the coming year. If you are using any AI tool to generate your videos, there will be a disclosure requirement.
  • DreamTrack, which generates a song for Shorts videos, is in limited testing, but you can remix those Shorts using the mobile Shorts editor.
  • Dream Screen will let you generate video or background for Shorts.
  • Aloud is an AI-powered dubbing tool to dub your videos into other languages. This is currently an experimental Area 120 project.
  • Recommended titles, based on the video transcript and description.
  • There are AI-powered Shorts effects, such as this one that turns you into flowers.
  • Next year there will be AI-powered tools for brainstorming and outlining new videos and finding music tracks to use.
Google Ads has AI-powered image editing and brainstorming tools for advertisers.

That’s a lot, right? There will likely be more features in the coming year.

More AI-Powered Tools and Image Editors

Of course, Google is not the only company rolling out AI tools for text, image and video generation and editing. Microsoft, Adobe, Canva and many other platforms now have AI-powered image and video editing tools. Note that most of the free tools have limits to the number of images you can generate per month.

Microsoft was quick to offer AI-powered chat in Bing Search, currently powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 (Microsoft owns 49% of OpenAI). Their other tools:
  • Bing Image Editor is a text to AI image generator.
  • Microsoft Designer ( is a free suite of image editing tools, including image generator, background eraser, brand kit creator, and social media image creator (including text).
  • Copilot is Microsoft’s AI productivity tool, and is integrated in Office and other work software. You can use it directly at
Adobe’s AI-powered image generation tool is Firefly.
  • Adobe Firefly ( generates images, removes backgrounds, creates text effects, templates and more, and is integrated in Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Adobe Express ( ) is Adobe’s free image editing platform with Adobe Firefly. It will also automatically caption videos, edit videos, and create an animation from your voice recording. For projects they offer templates for social media and other platforms.
  • Adobe Premiere, their professional video editing software, offers AI-powered tools for video editing. Of course this isn’t free.
Canva ( launched their own Magic Studio, with AI-powered tools integrated into the web-based graphic design platform. Some tools are limited to paid Pro accounts.
  • Magic Design: Create designs, presentations, and videos from your uploaded content.
  • Magic Design for Video: create a “short, shareable” video from your uploaded video clips.
  • Magic Switch (paid Pro only): convert content from one type to another.
  • Video background remover (paid Pro only)
  • AI Photo Editor: Magic Grab, Magic Morph, Magic Edit (only this feature is free).
  • Magic Media: create images or short video clips from a text prompt.
  • Magic Animate (paid Pro only): automatically animate still graphics.
  • Magic Write: Writing assistant.
These are the platforms I’m most familiar with, but there are lots more out there. I’m planning to try more in the coming year.

More 2023 Updates