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Even if you think AI search could be good, it won’t be good

Pluralistic: “The big news in search this week is that Google is continuing its transition to “AI search” – instead of typing in search terms and getting links to websites, you’ll ask Google a question and an AI will compose an answer based on things it finds on the web: – Google bills this as “let Google do the googling for you.” Rather than searching the web yourself, you’ll delegate this task to Google. Hidden in this pitch is a tacit admission that Google is no longer a convenient or reliable way to retrieve information, drowning as it is in AI-generated spam, poorly labeled ads, and SEO garbage: – Googling used to be easy: type in a query, get back a screen of highly relevant results. Today, clicking the top links will take you to sites that paid for placement at the top of the screen (rather than the sites that best match your query). Clicking further down will get you scams, AI slop, or bulk-produced SEO nonsense. AI-powered search promises to fix this, not by making Google search results better, but by having a bot sort through the search results and discard the nonsense that Google will continue to serve up, and summarize the high quality results. Now, there are plenty of obvious objections to this plan. For starters, why wouldn’t Google just make its search results better? Rather than building a LLM for the sole purpose of sorting through the garbage Google is either paid or tricked into serving up, why not just stop serving up garbage? We know that’s possible, because other search engines serve really good results by paying for access to Google’s back-end and then filtering the results…

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