The chatbot wars will change the internet forever

Photo illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters/CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters/CC BY-SA 4.0

On February 8, Google did something surprising in its nature: It played catch-up. The Big Tech giant has built a reputation over the years for being the top dog in the game when it comes to search and advertising. Although his competitors did everything they could to threaten his dominance, it seemed that nothing would ever unsettle him.

And then came ChatGPT.

When the generative AI chatbot was released to the public in November 2022, it sparked a furious shitstorm of discourse and overreaction. People called it the end of higher education. Suddenly, job titles that we once thought were safe from automation, from content writers to even lawyers, were in danger of being replaced by AI. ChatGPT even passed MBA and medical licensing exams.

As this unfolded, Microsoft moved quickly. In January 2023, Semafor reported that the company wanted to invest about $10 billion in ChatGPT’s owner OpenAI. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giant Baidu announced it would develop and launch a ChatGPT clone called Ernie Bot, while Google said it would launch its own chatbot called Bard. However, they are both defeated.

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Microsoft has already integrated ChatGPT into its web browser and Bing search engine, allowing users to ask questions like this.


Just after Semafor reported on their investment, Microsoft announced that it was integrating the ChatGPT into its Bing search engine and its Edge browser for test users. Now, instead of searching for, say, the best 65-inch television screen or the best restaurants to visit in New York City, Bing gives you just a few recommendations — all without you having to click a single link.

It was a big announcement for several reasons. Not only did Bing move very quickly to integrate ChatGPT into its search engine, but for the first time in possibly ever, Microsoft got one on Google in a really big way. Clearly, Google is also completely shocked by these developments – the company’s management declared a “code red” after the launch of ChatGPT and also decided to roll out its response to Bing’s update at an alarmingly fast rate.

Just a day after the Microsoft announcement, Google responded with its own demonstration of how Bard integrates with its search engine. Like Bing, Google’s AI-armored search could quickly summarize information from other websites without users having to click a single thing. In one example, it showed the results for the question “What are the best constellations to look for when stargazing?” with a chatbot-like response of possible constellations.

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Google plans to include its Bard AI in searches.


But even this did not go smoothly for the search giant. Eagle-eyed viewers noticed a mistake in Google’s ad for Bard that claimed the James Webb Space Telescope was the first to take pictures of a planet outside our solar system (it’s not). This mistake appears to be a major reason why Alphabet’s shares fell 8 percent or about $100 billion in value in a single day.

This is to say it all: Nearly a decade after Facebook — and Silicon Valley in general — announced it was moving away from its “act fast and break things” ethos, it seems they’re right back where they started. Only now these companies are so big that the things they break have untold consequences for the rest of us.

“Big companies don’t want to miss out on the next big thing, and startups want to monetize unbridled hopes and dreams, like so many startups monetized dot-coms, cryptocurrencies, and generic AI,” Gary N. Smith, an economist and author of several books about AI, including Distrust: big data, data torture and the assault on science, told The Daily Beast.

This kind of business FOMO is so intense that it can even lead a company like Google to make quick and perhaps hasty decisions, especially in light of the fact that there are still many dangers lurking behind generative AIs like ChatGPT.

According to Smith, the fundamental problem of large language models (LLM) such as those used by ChatGPT is that these systems are not designed to really understand the words it produces – they are only designed to predict what the next word in the sentence would be. must be. are. “They can’t tell fact from fiction because they learned to write before they learned to think,” he said.

Then there are the issues around people learning to trust these chatbots the way they trust Google. According to Smith, the main danger of these bots is not that they are smarter than us, but that humans think they’re smarter than us – something that’s certainly not helped by the way the media, venture capitalists, and tech founders continue to extol generative AI out of proportion.

LLM should only be used in situations where the cost of error is small, such as recommending movies, but their magical powers will surely convince many people that LLMs can be used in situations where the cost of error is high, such as hiring of decisions, approving loans, jail sentences, medical diagnoses and military strategy,” said Smith.

Why right wingers are obsessed with making ChatGPT say insults

We’ve already seen this happen. AI has shown time and time again that it is uniquely susceptible to bias, racism and sexism as it is often trained on biased data sets. This has resulted in instances of chatbots uttering racial rants, to housing mortgage bots rejecting applications from people of color. Despite being released for months, ChatGPT has been found to generate racist and sexist responses to prompts to this day.

So what happens when a generative AI seemingly rushed to the production line is embedded in the world’s most popular search engine? That’s something of the utmost importance to David Karpf, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. He has written about and studied the impact of generative AI. He says he’s getting an “ominous feeling” about the impact of generative AI on search.

Karpf recalled the relatively early days of search engine optimization, when websites and content farms could produce articles with little effort to dominate search results for easy clicks and ad revenue. Once Google noticed it, it changed their algorithm and discouraged bad actors from producing crappy content. However, this may no longer be the case with the introduction of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT keeps imploding because of Crochet. (Serious.)

“The concern is that if Google thinks they’re in an arms race, they might not be the regulator or the quasi-regulator of last resort,” Karpf said. “They might not step in and be on the side of people’s search quality if they’re really concerned about these other companies closing in on them and digging into search.”

While much has been said about the potential of these technologies to become something of a universal disruptor, Karpf believes much of this talk is overblown — at least for certain industries. Talk of AI replacing jobs like lawyers and doctors is unlikely to materialize (despite OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s bold claims that it will). However, jobs and industries that do not have the same institutional and organizational power are much more vulnerable.

“Those who can’t defend themselves are precarious industries like freelancers who can’t organize a defense,” Karpf said. “Meanwhile, the largest industries that already have institutional walls to defend themselves are going to defend themselves and then integrate [generative AI] to serve themselves.”

Overall, this means that the digital media landscape — already incredibly precarious because it’s built on a shaky and porous foundation of algorithms and ad dollars — will change forever if Big Tech decides to completely phase out the use of chatbots for world search. to embrace. future. Businesses in digital advertising, from SEO to affiliate marketing and content marketing, will have to change. Even the big names of Buzz feedUnpleasant The New York TimesUnpleasant The Washington PostUnpleasant Bar stool Sportand even the website you are reading this on has been tied to the yoke of Big Tech algorithms for over a decade.

Soon we may all find ourselves in a position where the same company that helped build these empires—and forever change the face of the Internet in the process—may be the one to cause them to collapse.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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