I’m questioning Google’s decision to provide AI text answers through their chat bot, Bard, in a revamp of their search engine results. I’ll tell you why. If I am right, I think Google is being unfair and they may damage the Internet.
When you use Google today, you ask Google to find answers to your questions and information generally and it provides a very long list of websites with the answers that you are looking for. Google links to those websites so you can read the article, find your answer and move on. The website owners do all they can to do their best to be at the top of that long list in order to improve their viewing figures and therefore their revenue if they rely on advertising. It’s a simple formula and one that everybody knows well including the search engine optimisers who sell their services to website owners.
Google’s own version of an artificial intelligent (AI) chat bot is called Bard. Unlike the first AI chat bot to hit the Internet, ChatGPT, Bard, I am told, can access Google’s search engine. This means it can and will access the entirety of the Internet as a source of the information that it provides in a text answer to search queries.
Google are going to provide that text answer at the top of the list and then below it, I’m told, they will provide some links in the conventional way.
The unfairness for me is that Google is taking information provided by website owners and re-presenting it through Bard as if it is their own information. They are then de-prioritise websites because the links to those websites are presented below Bard’s text answer.
I hope you can see the unfairness in that process.
From Google’s perspective this is a gamble because at the moment they receive a lot of money, apparently $162 billions in revenue, from people who pay for Google to rank their website at the top of the page. How will these people feel about the change? Their websites with no longer be at the top of the page but below Bard’s answer.
The Times newspaper confirms that Bard’s answers will be “corroborated by authoritative websites”. That actually is according to Google. Isn’t that an admission that Google is dependent upon websites that it would have normally listed on page one of their search engine results but are now merging into Bard’s answer?
If I’m right, this change by Google is going to boost Google’s dominance on the Internet and weaken the status of all other websites.
I don’t blame them because they’re in the business of making money. Google already dominates the Internet. Indirectly, they are regulators of the Internet although they have no legal status.
I argued many years ago that there should be an independent internationally appointed regulator of the Internet to ensure that it is fair and ethical. There is no chance that it’ll happen because there is no chance in an international agreement as there are too many interests pulling in different directions.
The plan may reduce the number of website because it may lead a loss in advertising revenue due to lower hits. This may also damage moral and reduce motivation. In turn this would reduce Adsense revenue for Google.
What Bard says in response to the question: Will Bard take viewers away from other websites?
It is possible that Bard could take viewers away from other websites. Bard is a powerful tool that can be used to generate text, translate languages, write different kinds of creative content, and answer your questions in an informative way. This means that Bard could potentially replace the need for users to visit other websites to perform these tasks.
However, it is also possible that Bard could complement other websites. For example, a user could use Bard to generate a list of potential topics to research, and then use other websites to learn more about those topics. Additionally, Bard could be used to create content that is then shared on other websites.
Ultimately, whether or not Bard takes viewers away from other websites will depend on how users choose to use it.
Comment on that: a diplomatic answer designed to try and relieve the anxiety of millions of website owners.