What will be left for us humans if AI consumes search?

News from Google This week’s AI-infused developer event makes it clear that we’re on the cusp of a new age of search.

After Microsoft pours OpenAI’s technology into Bing, Google is experimenting with its own AI technology and opening up new ways to use search. Clearly, we’re about to see the first major overhauls in the market for finding information on the Internet in a very long time.

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

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

Until the generative AI rush, changes in search engine technology felt incremental unless it was to monetize user activity. Google has spent years toiling to increase the number of answers users get on its search pages so they don’t go elsewhere, and has sometimes relaxed its advertising tax so that search results bring more attention to its customers than websites that don’t advertise.

Has this proved better for the internet? I could say it isn’t, but that’s pointless. I doubt Google and its ilk will shake off that commercial bias and build features that will be good for end users at their own expense. They can’t afford that.

It’s only natural that Google and Bing won’t prioritize the needs of third-party websites over their own when building their technology.

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