One Author

(February 10, 2023)

Microsoft just announced their ChatGPT-powered Bing experience. While Google is worried and scrambling to catch up on the new space race, we as humans have even more important things to worry about than our bottom line.

From a purely technological perspective, these AI developments look incredible. We're getting to the point where computer assistants we know from sci-fi films are becoming an every day reality.

But what are the wider implications of this?

There's tons of potential societal outcomes this could lead to, starting with kids a few years from now wondering why Tony Stark is the only character with an all-knowing AI assistant in Iron Man, all the way to a full singularity event. For this article, I'll focus on just one aspect: Internet content.

AI content on the web

For some time already, there's been a ton of AI-composed or -aided "content" on the web. You may have heard others (e.g. Luke Smith, Jacob Smith; no relation between the two as far as I'm aware) complaining about the generic SEO garbage sites that just produce tons of generic, search-engine friendly articles on commonly searched topics, just to farm clicks and ad views.

More recently, as various advanced language models started being published, people started speculating that eventually AI will start replacing even the higher-class content. YouTuber penguinz0 claims that, in his opinion, a bit of playing around with ChatGPT produced a better game review than a popular game journalism website. BuzzFeed openly stated that they will start publishing AI generated articles.

One author

While people have been suspecting that eventually more and more content will be generated, Microsoft is now straight up recommending you do it now (see minute 37:30 of the press conference, linked above).

Composing individual social media posts might not seem like that big of a deal. But it is if you take into account how media builds upon itself. Much content is created by citing, commenting on, being inspired by other content. And AI is itself specifically suited to quickly generating this sort of derivative material. As the density of AI generated content increases, its rate of increase will start to grow non-linearly.

Just imagine. A Wikipedia article cites that so-and-so said something on Twitter. That The Guardian reported that this or that happened. A leaked email from so-and-so revealed that... But all those sources were written by AI. And maybe the article itself was composed with the help of Bing's compose functionality?

Then you search for something relevant and the Bing bot reads the article and provides you an answer based on it. Maybe you're smart enough to double check there are "real" sources to corroborate the bot's answers and it's not something it made up, so you find the Wikipedia article yourself, full of external citations, and are satisfied.

But fool you are, the internet has one author.

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