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The Internet Is Full of AI Dogshit

The Internet is now a series of machines talking to machines

2:39 PM EST on November 28, 2023

A screenshot from the remake of System Shock, showing the character hacking at a computer console

Image source: System Shock, Nightdive

The Internet used to be so simple to use that people collectively coined the term “let me Google that for you” to make fun of people who had the audacity of asking other people questions online. In the future I fear that people will have no other choice but to ask people for information from the Internet, because right now it’s all full of AI dogshit.

In September of this year, Google users discovered that the search engine was incorrectly telling people that eggs can melt. Why? Because instead of surfacing websites, Google now grabs snapshots of pages in a drop down menu, allowing users to read search results without clicking on anything. This practice often grabs incorrect information, like an AI-generated answer from Quora that insisted that eggs can melt when they definitely cannot.

In yet another example of the increasing uselessness of Google search: Literally today I was able to recreate comic artist Mattie Lubchanskey’s Google search for sinus inflammation that returned results for having an inflamed penis.

A screenshot of a google search for "sinus inflammation" that instead served information about penis inflammation

Yesterday, an unhinged maniac on Twitter claimed to have performed an Internet traffic “heist.” How did he do this? He looked at the site index for the website he wanted to beat in Google search results, exported the article URLS, and then used AI to quickly write articles based on them. In the Twitter thread about this, he described manually editing the titles for these web pages as “optional.”

Also yesterday, the once venerable outlet Sports Illustrated was caught with its pants down. According to a story from Futurism, it appears that multiple different articles on the site were not only written by AI, but claimed to be authored by people who were also completely made up. When Futurism reached out for comment, this content was deleted. 

Sports Illustrated later released a statement saying that the articles were authored by a third party, were not AI generated, and that the writers were writing under pseudonyms. This does not explain why the articles were removed after press reached out for comment. Nor does it explain why Sports Illustrated publicly stated they would be using AI to generate content for them in an article in the Wall Street Journal from February of this year.

The internet has been broken in a fundamental way. It is no longer a repository of people communicating with people; increasingly, it is just a series of machines communicating with machines.

The once ubiquitous phrase “let me Google that for you” is now meaningless. You are as likely to return incorrect information as you are complete fabrications, and the people who put this content on the Internet do not care. The people who hold the purse strings for Sports Illustrated are more interested in gaming Google search results and the resultant ad revenue from that practice than actually serving their readers. If that means the rest of us get information about inflamed penises when we’re trying to know how long sinus inflammation is supposed to last, well, I guess we’re shit out of luck.

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