Get Ready to Relearn How to Use the Internet

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This year has brought a lot of innovation in artificial intelligence that I’ve tried to keep up with, but too many still underestimate the importance of what’s to come. I often hear comments like “These are cool images, graphic designers will work with them” or “GPT-3 is cool, it will be easier to cheat on coursework.” And then they end up saying, “But it won’t change my life.”

That belief is likely to be proven wrong—and soon, as AI is poised to change our entire information architecture. You will have to learn how to use the internet all over again.

The core architecture of the consumer Internet hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years. Facebook, Google and Twitter are still recognizable versions of themselves. The browser retains its central role. The importance of video has become more important, but this is hardly a significant change in how things work.

Change is coming. Consider Twitter, which I use every morning to gather information about the world. In less than two years, maybe I’ll be talking into my computer, laying out topics I’m interested in, and some version of AI will spit it out to me like a Twitter remix in a readable format and tailored to my needs.

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AI will also be not only responsive but also active. Maybe it will tell me, “You really need to read about Russia and the changes in the UK government today.” Or I could say, “More calm today, please,” and that wish would be granted.

I might also ask, “What are my friends doing?” and I will receive a useful roundup of web and social media services. Or I could ask for AI content in various foreign languages, all perfectly translated. Very often you won’t use Google, you’ll just ask the AI ​​your question and get the answer in audio for your daily commute if you want. If your friends were particularly interested in certain videos or pieces of news, they are more likely to send them to you.

In short, many of the current core services of the Internet will be powered by AI. This will create a fundamentally new kind of user experience.

The underlying services are unlikely to disappear. People will still Google things, and people will still read and write on their Facebook pages. But more will go directly to the AI ​​aggregator. This 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, you just use Google Maps and GPS directly. You have actually moved into an information aggregator.

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Or consider blogs that peaked between 2001 and 2012. Twitter and Facebook then became aggregators of blog content. There are still a lot of blogs out there, but many people access them directly through aggregators. Now this process will take another step, as the current aggregators will self-aggregate and organize themselves using super-smart forms of machine intelligence.

The world of ideas will be 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 skill – self-leveling AI – with an as-yet-unknown character.

It remains to be seen how the AI ​​will select and credit the underlying content and what kind of package users will prefer (with or without author photos?). To the extent that users simply want a response, however, additional intermediaries will be moved. Why should a think tank bother to produce a policy report if it is going to be appended to what are essentially briefing notes with no clear provenance? In general, influence can be gained by those willing to create content with little credit, such as Wikipedia editors.

And what about the competition in AI itself? A dominant AI is likely to refer to the underlying sources to ensure that content generation continues and maintain a healthy ecosystem of information to mine. In contrast, in a more competitive AI industry, there is a risk that content will be cannibalized, but not refreshed with due recognition, as the free-rider problem may begin.

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Another question is who will benefit from these innovations – the new AI companies, the old tech giants or the internet users? It’s too early to tell, but some analysts are bullish on the new AI companies.

Of course, this is all 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’s opinion:

• Google’s AI videos point to a machine-driven future: Parmy Olson

• Drug detection will soon become faster. Thanks to AI: Lisa Jarvis

• AI panned my scenario. Can It Break Hollywood?: Trung Phan

This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Tyler Cowen is a reporter for Bloomberg Opinion. 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 Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World.

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