scorecardWe're reading: Will Google's AI answers mean the end of the web?
  1. Home
  2. tech
  3. news
  4. We're reading: Will Google's AI answers mean the end of the web?

We're reading: Will Google's AI answers mean the end of the web?

Peter Kafka   

We're reading: Will Google's AI answers mean the end of the web?
Tech1 min read
  • Google is shifting to AI-generated answers for search queries to keep users on its site.
  • This shift raises concerns about the reliability of AI answers and the impact on web traffic.

Google is the internet's gatekeeper. You ask it a question, and it sends you to a site on the internet that can answer that question for you.

Except that's not really the case anymore. Google frequently tries to answer your question itself, on Google-owned real estate, so you have no need to go anywhere else. And now the company is super-sizing that effort with AI-generated answers that are going to be the standard reply for all search in the near future.

One problem with that plan is that generative AI engines just make things up. The other, more existential problem for both Google and the internet: If Google is answering all of your queries on its own site, why would you go anywhere else?

People who make a living putting things on the internet have been freaking out about this future for some time. But there's a risk for Google, too: If people aren't putting things on the internet, what will Google use to create answers?

The Atlantic's Charlie Warzel wonders about all of this and doesn't have an answer (Charlie does know how to get you to click on a story, though — call your story "The Toilet Theory of the Internet"). I don't think Google knows, either, which is partly why the company's answers to questions people are asking about all of this — including from CEO Sundar Pichai — are both vague and hard to take at face value.

One question I haven't seen addressed in most of these stories: Doesn't Google have to keep sending people to websites? Because selling sponsored links to websites is the economic engine that makes the $2 trillion company run. So this is all going to be messy — for Google, for web publishers, and the rest of us.




Advertisement