That view is likely to be proven wrong — and soon, as AI is about to revolutionize our entire information architecture. You have to relearn how to use the Internet.
The core architecture of the consumer internet has not changed significantly in the last 10 years. Facebook, Google, and Twitter remain recognizable versions of their former selves. The browser retains its central role. Video has grown in importance, but that hardly means a huge change in the way it works.
change is coming. Think of Twitter, which I use every morning to gather information about the world. Maybe in less than two years, I’ll be talking into my computer, outlining my areas of interest, and someone’s AI version will spit back some sort of Twitter remix, in a readable format and tailored to my needs.
The AI will also not only be responsive, but also active. Maybe it’s telling me, “Today you really need to read about Russia and changes in the British government.” Or I could say, “Better luck today, please,” and that wish would be granted.
I could also ask, “What are my friends doing?” and I’d get a useful summary of web and social media services. Or I could ask the AI for content in a variety of foreign languages, all impeccably translated. Very often you won’t use Google, just ask your question to the AI and get an answer if you want, in audio form for your commute. If your friends were particularly interested in some video clips or passages from messages, they may be more likely to send them to you.
In short, many of the current core internet services are mediated by AI. This creates a fundamentally new kind of user experience.
It is unlikely that the underlying services will go away. People will still google things, and people will still read and write on their Facebook pages. But more will go straight to the AI aggregator. That dynamic is already happening: When was the last time you asked Google for directions? They exist online, of course, but if you’re like me, just use Google Maps and GPS directly. They actually switched to the information aggregator.
Or consider blogs that arguably peaked between 2001 and 2012. Then Twitter and Facebook became blog content aggregators. Blogs are still plentiful, but many people gain access to them directly through aggregators. Now that process will take another step – as current aggregators are themselves aggregated and organized by super-intelligent forms of machine intelligence.
The world of ideas is turned upside down. Many public intellectuals excel at promoting themselves on Twitter and other social media, and those opportunities may be diminishing. There will be a new ability – promote yourself to AI – of an as yet unknown nature.
It remains to be seen how the AIs will choose and credit underlying content, and what types of packages users will prefer (with or without author photos?). If users only want an answer, other intermediaries are pushed out. Why would a think tank bother producing a strategy report when it’s being added to what are essentially briefing notes with no explicit attribution? Overall, those who enjoy producing content with little credit, such as B. Wikipedia editors gain influence.
And what about the competition within the AI itself? A dominant AI is more likely to cite underlying sources to ensure content generation continues and to maintain a healthy information ecosystem for harvest. Conversely, in a more competitive AI space, there is a risk that content may be cannibalized but not refreshed appropriately, as a free-rider problem could arise.
Another question is who will benefit from these innovations – the new AI companies, the old big tech companies, or the internet users? It’s too early to know, but some analysts are bullish on the emerging AI companies.
Of course, this is all just one man’s opinion. If you disagree, in a few years you can ask the new AI engines what they think.
More from the Bloomberg Opinion:
• Google’s AI videos point to a machine-generated future: Parmy Olson
• Drug discovery will soon accelerate. Thanks AI: Lisa Jarvis
• AI panned my script. Can Hollywood crack it?: Trung Phan
This column does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editors or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Tyler Cowen is a columnist for the Bloomberg Opinion. He is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and writes for the blog Marginal Revolution. He is co-author of Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World.
For more stories like this, visit bloomberg.com/opinion