Friday, April 12, 2024

As AI consumes search, what will be left for us humans?

News from Google’s AI-soaked developer event this week makes it plain that we’re on the cusp of a new era of search.

Following Microsoft’s moulding of OpenAI’s tech into Bing, Google is experimenting with its own AI tech and opening up new ways to use search. It’s clear that we’re about to see the first major overhauls in the market for finding information on the Internet in a really long time.

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As with all major evolutions in technology, these changes to search will have broad and lasting impacts. There will be winners and losers, and among the latter, at least according to early reviews of Google’s new changes to search, will be websites that host writing.

Google and Bing will quickly grow adept at using large language models to generate answers to questions, precluding the need to visit websites to find answers. As a result, media companies, bloggers and scrappy SaaS startups could see fewer visits to their websites and less attention paid to their offerings.

Until the generative AI rush, changes to search engine tech felt incremental, unless it was for monetizing user activity. Google has toiled for years to increase the amount of answers users get on its search pages so they don’t head elsewhere, and has sometimes smoothed its advertising load so search results highlight its customers more than websites that don’t advertise.

Has this proven better for the Internet? I could argue that it hasn’t, but that’s pointless. I’m doubtful Google and its ilk will shake off that commercial bias and build features that will prove good for the end users at its own expense. They cannot afford to do so.

It’s only natural that Google and Bing are not going to prioritize the needs of third-party websites over their own while building their tech.

As AI consumes search, what will be left for us humans? by Alex Wilhelm originally published on TechCrunch

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