It’s a battle for our creativity. We will lose if we don’t update internet’s default business model.
The dirty little secret of Big Tech is that they’ve built their empires on the backs of small businesses and individuals, who invest their time and money in giving away the content that ultimately fuels these platforms.
Take Google, for instance. Of course, Google delivers a lot of value to users. Because it’s the de facto global data repository, every content creator must be in Google. Here we have a classic network effect in play: users rely on Google because it has all the content, and new content providers join Google because all users are there.
Google makes most of its money by selling ads on search result pages, and it’s not exactly incentivized to give users a quick and precise answer to their queries. They’d rather inundate users with a barrage of results and hope they’ll click on as many paid ads as possible. It’s a conflict of interest, plain and simple.
Now let’s look at the distant second search engine: Bing, from Microsoft. It basically copies Google — from the product to the business model. Nothing weird in it — as even Google copied its sponsored search ads model from another company. However, Microsoft’s Bing is finally bringing something new to the table. After investing in OpenAI, they’re integrating ChatGPT into their search engine to provide users with a single answer, cutting down on the endless clicking and scrolling that Google forces on its users.
Google and the original Bing might have been exploiting content creators all these years, but at least those creators could get some visitors from time to time. And with those visitors, creators could make some money (by selling stuff, subscriptions, etc). But now, with Bing generating a text response by repurposing content from millions of sources, how will creators get paid? Bing shows the sources of the text, but frankly, who will click on a citation? Microsoft should pay creators who provided the content OpenAI used to generate results. It’s that simple.
Maybe it will take years, maybe a whole generation, but I’m positive that without a new business model that values content creators, we will get to a point where there will be no original content anymore. AI will be creating content based on AI content. Are we prepared to give up our creativity to machines? I, for one, am not.
We have been having nightmares about SkyNet and robots annihilating humans. We’ve been wrong all these years. They are coming for our souls, not our bodies.