AI in Search will come at a cost. Are we ready to pay?

ChatGPT has shocked and rocked not only the technology world but also the general public. There are tweets about it, articles about it, courses on how to master ChatGPT, books on how you can use it to run a business using ChatGPT, and much more content.  

ChatGPT is just one of the upcoming Generative AIs that promise to disrupt many areas – from writing (whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry) to legal drafting (agreements, official replies, court arguments) to coding (low level, high level) to knowledge sharing. Of course one of the biggest risks that everyone sees with this kind of technology is potential Job losses.  

One of the areas that are already getting disrupted is search. hen ChatGPT was launched, one of the most widespread reactions was this may disrupt Google.

It already has!  

Microsoft quickly increased its stake in OpenAI (the company that launched ChatGPT) and launched new Bing and edge with similar capabilities as ChatGPT. Google also saw it as a threat to its search dominance and announced its version, Bard, and plans to incorporate it into search. Google’s biggest challenge may not be ChatGPT but its own fears (that’s for another day).    

Irrespective of who wins the search war, it’s for sure internet search will soon have features of Generate AIs. Is it good news? Is it something to be excited about?  

If it’s implemented fully, let’s see how it may look (of course it’s going to take time). The demo by New Bing shows that along with search results, it shows the summarized answer to search query, similar to the answer you should expect to see from ChatGPT today. Slowly we may start relying on answers from a bot and looking at results may go down.  

It is absolutely possible because with increasing content on the internet, it’s getting difficult to make sense of search results without investing much time. There is a big population who wants the summarized answer rather than putting in the effort.  

So whenever that transition happens ie. from the list of search results, it will be welcomed by the masses but it may be another defeat of free information. let me explain to you why-  

1. Misinformation – Summaries are faulty by nature. It’s ok to summarize factual data but what about more subjective matters? Irrespective of how objective GAI tries to be, how much it tries to incorporate different views, or how many disclaimers it gives, it has to emphasize one view in order to be useful for the question being asked. That’s where the downhill starts. You may argue we are doing a similar thing by ranking search results but it’s different. You still see all results whether on page 1 or 10. In this case,  

when you read a summary in a human-like style it looks more reliable and less questionable. So down the line, the search result for a large population may mean primarily Summary by GAI.  

We may see GIAO (Generative AI optimization) replacing SEO to make sure your view is included in the summary.   

2. Big Tech Powers – When you have the power to summarize on your server and more people start relying on those summaries rather than webpages themselves, you have too much power. Today search engines just provide a link to actual web pages based on your search query. If a search engine goes down, goes into the wrong hands, or comes under pressure from the government to behave in a certain way, at best they can change search rankings or suppress some of the results.   

But when you start relying on their summary, they have a lot of power. To influence you, the Governments don’t need to change websites they don’t agree with, they just need to take control of summarizing algorithms. by force or regulation.  

Surrender of freedom usually comes in the form of convenience and is not realized unless it’s too late. We need transparent ethics around the use of Generative AI in search (and other areas) and international standards to which all governments agree. 

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[All Views in this article and anything I publish, are purely personal in nature and don’t represent the view of any organization I may be associated with]


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