Google’s AI Push Threatens To Erode The Web And Starve Future AI

Google’s increasing reliance on AI-generated search results instead of traditional links is rewiring the internet and could accelerate the decline of the decades-old World Wide Web. The shift offers convenience but threatens to make online life duller and cut into Google’s ad revenue.

With the rollout of “AI Overviews” to all U.S. users, Google will answer many queries with AI-written paragraphs. While this system still relies on web-based information, it doesn’t drive traffic to the original content creators. Publishers and retailers fear this will decimate their businesses.

The change could also leave Google’s own AI and others with less accurate, timely and interesting data. By making it less appealing for humans to contribute knowledge to the web, Google’s summaries could starve the very AI tools that rely on that information.

At Google’s I/O event, VP Rose Yao demonstrated Google Lens’ ability to interpret live smartphone video. By pointing her phone at a broken turntable, the AI identified the issue and provided instructions without Yao needing to know the proper terminology.

While impressive, this efficiency comes at a cost. In the past, seeking answers would involve reading web pages or asking questions on enthusiast forums or blogs. Replies might be cantankerous but knowledgeable and full of personality. Today’s web exists because millions have spent decades contributing bits of knowledge, lore and images – the foundation of modern AI.

If Google answers most questions with a single AI voice, there’s less incentive for anyone to share expertise and creativity online. Social media had already started dismantling the open web by diverting energy into privately owned conversations.

The web is withering slowly through a “managed decline.” If Google doesn’t handle this carefully, AI could end up not only eating the web but consuming its own sustenance.