Monday, June 26, 2023

"AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born"

Entropy, lowest common denominator, whatever we want to call it, that's where we're going. 

FCC Commissioner Newton Minnow (see also S.S. Minnow) famously called television a "vast wasteland" but he didn't know the half of it, dying in May he didn't get to see A.I. generated content on the internet.

From The Verge, June 26:

Generative AI models are changing the economy of the web, making it cheaper to generate lower-quality content. We’re just beginning to see the effects of these changes. 

In recent months, the signs and portents have been accumulating with increasing speed. Google is trying to kill the 10 blue links. Twitter is being abandoned to bots and blue ticks. There’s the junkification of Amazon and the enshittification of TikTok. Layoffs are gutting online media. A job posting looking for an “AI editor” expects “output of 200 to 250 articles per week.” ChatGPT is being used to generate whole spam sites. Etsy is flooded with “AI-generated junk.” Chatbots cite one another in a misinformation ouroboros. LinkedIn is using AI to stimulate tired users. Snapchat and Instagram hope bots will talk to you when your friends don’t. Redditors are staging blackouts. Stack Overflow mods are on strike. The Internet Archive is fighting off data scrapers, and “AI is tearing Wikipedia apart.” The old web is dying, and the new web struggles to be born. 

The web is always dying, of course; it’s been dying for years, killed by apps that divert traffic from websites or algorithms that reward supposedly shortening attention spans. But in 2023, it’s dying again — and, as the litany above suggests, there’s a new catalyst at play: AI.

The problem, in extremely broad strokes, is this. Years ago, the web used to be a place where individuals made things. They made homepages, forums, and mailing lists, and a small bit of money with it. Then companies decided they could do things better. They created slick and feature-rich platforms and threw their doors open for anyone to join. They put boxes in front of us, and we filled those boxes with text and images, and people came to see the content of those boxes. The companies chased scale, because once enough people gather anywhere, there’s usually a way to make money off them. But AI changes these assumptions.....