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No, AI in Google Search isn’t going to kill online content 

Published Aug 16th, 2023 8:24PM EDT
Robot with a computer
Image: sdecoret/Adobe

“AI is coming for our jobs.” We’ve all heard this refrain repeatedly, and its frequency has only increased as chatbots like ChatGPT become available to the public. Now, as Google continues to make innovations to how it handles search, the question remains of just how much AI will impact online content creation and whether it can kill human-generated content on the internet. The short answer is no. The long answer, though, is a bit more complicated.

First, let’s clear something up right here at the start. AI, like ChatGPT and other large language models, isn’t going to put online content creators out of a job. Instead, it’s simply going to change how the game is played. For the most part, people will still prefer human-written content because it offers opinions and personalities that AI just can’t recreate.

Okay, that’s fair, right? But what about all these new AI-generated reviews and AI summaries? For those who haven’t kept up with the state of AI and how companies are extending it into their services, we’re seeing companies like Amazon and Newegg moving towards AI-generated reviews, summarizing various other user reviews with AI technology.

Open AI's ChatGPT start page.
Open AI’s ChatGPT start page. Image source: Jonathan S. Geller

It’s super messy and not something that you should rely on heavily. I’ve already written a piece on why you shouldn’t trust AI-generated reviews, especially while the tech is still young. But what about Google’s new AI summaries, which it plans to bring to search?

AI in search, or SGE (Search Generative Experience), as Google calls it, will essentially allow Google’s AI to summarize a long article down into key points or takeaways, something that many websites with in-depth reporting already do pretty well. Unsurprisingly, it has some writers concerned. “But if they just read the key points, there isn’t any reason to read the article.” But that isn’t always the case.

While AI has proven effective at summarizing news and facts, it still can’t recreate the voice that human-written content brings. That’s important to remember, as our understanding of news can be impacted by how events are depicted by the reporter. Reporting is often based on beliefs supported by facts. So, while they aren’t straight opinion pieces, they are pieces that interpret the evidence in certain ways, depending on who is writing the piece.

Google's Gemini AI system revealed at Google I/O 2023.
Google’s Gemini AI system revealed at Google I/O 2023. Image source: Google

This is clearly evident in reports about factual things happening in our world, where one side of the political spectrum sees one thing, but another sees something different. With AI, you won’t get to see the nuance that goes into the key points the author is making. As such, the summaries will be helpful but not entirely reliable as they won’t be able to offer all the supporting interpretations that made those key takeaways important to the writer.

Don’t get me wrong, AI like ChatGPT will completely change how we handle online content generation, especially once OpenAI improves the language model even more and helps remove many of the plagiarism concerns. Once that happens, AI will be used to create more online content. However, it won’t be the kind of content that really shines from human writing, like opinions and even editorials. 

At the end of the day, the online content world has been moving away from regurgitating straight news stories for years. Even if AI replaces human writers in that instance, it isn’t completely replacing how online content is created overall. So, yes, AI will impact how we generate online content, but it isn’t going to replace us altogether. Not anytime soon, at least.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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