This view has been proven wrong – soon artificial intelligence is going to revolutionize our information structure. You will have to learn to use the Internet again.
The basic structure of the consumer Internet has not changed much over the past decade. Facebook, Google, and Twitter are still recognizable versions of their predecessors. The browser still retains its primary function. Video has become important, but it doesn’t represent a big change in how things work.
Change is coming. Consider Twitter, which I use every morning to gather information about the world. Less than two years from now, I’ll be talking at my computer, skimming over topics I’m interested in, and someone’s version of AI will spit out some kind of Twitter remix for my needs in an easy-to-read format.
AI will be proactive, not just reactive. Maybe it will tell me, “Today you really need to read about the change of government in Russia and Great Britain.” Or if I say, “I wish for more peace today,” that wish will come true.
I also asked, “What’s going on, my friends?” can be asked. and I will get useful information about the web and social media. Or I can ask the AI for content in various foreign languages, all translated perfectly. Most of the time, you won’t use Google, you’ll just ask the AI a question and get an audio answer on your way to work whenever you want. If your friends were interested in certain video clips or news pieces, they may be more likely to send them to you.
In short, many existing core internet services will be mediated by artificial intelligence. This will create a whole new kind of user experience.
Essential services are unlikely to disappear. People will still be searching on Google, and people will still be reading and writing on Facebook. But more will move directly to AI aggregators. This dynamic is already happening: When was the last time you asked Google for directions? Of course they’re online, but if you’re like me, you use Google Maps and GPS directly. You’ve actually switched to a data collector.
Or consider the blogs that peaked between 2001 and 2012. Then Twitter and Facebook became blog content aggregators. Blogs are still plentiful, but many people access them directly through aggregators. Now this process is about to take another step – because the current aggregators themselves will be aggregated and organized by super-intelligent forms of machine intelligence.
The world of ideas will be turned upside down. These opportunities may diminish as public intellectuals excel at promoting themselves on Twitter and other social media. Self-advocacy in artificial intelligence – new skills that are still unknown will emerge.
It remains to be seen how AIs will select and credit original content, and what kind of packages users will prefer (with or without author images?). As users want answers, additional intermediaries will be displaced. Why should a research organization bother to produce a policy report if it’s basically going to add to the brief without any sources? In general, people who are happy to produce content with a small amount of credit, such as Wikipedia editors, can gain influence.
What about competition within AI? A dominant AI is more likely to cite primary sources, continue content creation, and harvest to maintain a healthy information ecosystem. Conversely, in the more competitive AI industry, there is a danger of content cannibalization, but there is also the risk of free riders not reviving it with proper credit.
Another question is who will benefit from these innovations – new AI companies, older tech giants or Internet users? It’s too early to tell, but some analysts are optimistic about new AI companies.
Of course, this is just one person’s opinion. If you don’t agree, in a few years you’ll be able to ask the new AI engines what they think.
More from Bloomberg Opinion:
• Google’s AI-powered videos show a machine-generated future: Parmi Olson
• Drug discovery is about to get faster. Thanks to AI: Lisa Jarvis
• AI converted my screenplay. Can It Break Hollywood?: Trung Phan
This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP or its owners.
Tyler Cowen is a columnist for Bloomberg. He is a professor of economics at George Mason University and writes for the Marginal Revolution blog. He is the co-author of Talent: How to Identify Energy, Creativity, and Winners Around the World.
More similar stories are available at bloomberg.com/opinion