AI Browse Plugins: The Ultimate AdBlocker or an Economical Time Bomb?

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OpenAI has announced a significant upgrade to its ChatGPT chatbot with the addition of plug-in support. This upgrade will allow the chatbot to access real-time data from external websites. As well as interact with them with available services and products. Previously, the chatbot could only retrieve information from its training data, which only extended up to 2021. OpenAI has stated that plug-ins will expand ChatGPT's capabilities, potentially transforming it into a comprehensive interface for various sites and services. OpenAI has referred to it as "letting other services be ChatGPT’s eyes and ears."

The company has also introduced its own plug-ins, including the "Browsing" plug-in that enables ChatGPT to retrieve information from the internet. This is where we think the real story is. Specifically when looking at how internet-based usage and its supporting economy could drastically be interrupted.OpenAI's plug-in feature is similar to Microsoft's Bing, which feeds GPT-4 (the language model underlying ChatGPT) with information from the internet.

ChatGPT plugin, surfing the web to get you the most accurate and up to date answer to a question for it's user. Credit - OpenAI

AI Surfing vs Search and Website Ad-Revenue

Ad placements are one of the key economical backbones of the internet. Almost every information website, including Google and Bing search pages, is set up to attract users through information delivery, selling a product, or providing a service. The user traffic is then sold through ad placements to companies. In most cases, the revenue is used to sustain running the website and rendering a profit for the creator or company. Usually, this profit is enough to keep producing and publishing depending on the page view count. We are now looking at AI doing the tedious and slow process of ingesting, processing, and making sense of multiple web pages in a search result to respond to a user(of ChatGPT for example) with the most relevant, accurate, and useful response. No surfing countless web pages to find the relevant information and more importantly not seeing ads or being able to sell them.

Advertisers are going to be reluctant to pay for ad placements on web pages even more so if the majority of page traffic and impressions are triggered by AI bots. Companies want potential paying customers to know that their product or service exists. Most advertisers already scan traffic to exclude bot-related hits when paying out for placed ads and view count(impressions). This is going to be near impossible when it's an AI is doing the surfing of web pages where these ads are placed.

This isn't about dethroning the current dominant provider of the search engine. It's a complete re-write of a larger and more importantly free[to access] part of the internets econmical model.

Google doesn't pay for search to exist, advertisers do! The overwhelming majority of Google's revenue is advertising, about 80% of its annual profit or $146 Billion in 2020. Everything else Google has funded and bought to push the agenda of empowering humanity forward has almost exclusively been funded by its ad revenue. Not so for the likes of Microsoft adn Apple who are also in the AI race and have access to mountains of user data. This isn't about dethroning the current dominant provider of the search engine. It's possibly a complete rewrite of a large, and more importantly, free[to access] part of the internet's economical model.

Without figuring out how publishers who currently created and publish the information that AI models are trained on and continue to do so, we might be left with an internet where the only information being published for AIs to consume are those with deep pockets and a profit-above-all-else agenda. Or worse, an era where the majority of data available for consumption originates from stealth-funded dictator/fascist-based government propaganda farms. We're seeing this already in the digital art industry.

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'No AI Art' images posted by artists on artstation displayed on the trending section of ArtStation following the platform's refusal to ban AI-generated artwork. Image: @joysilvart(twitter)

Humanity is in for one of the greatest technologically and economically self-induced recessions of all time. A situation in which the top 1% claim that 'all change is painful' while the other 99% stare in shock and horror at this new reality.

UBI(Universal Basic Income) or UBS(Universal Basic Services) might just be the crutch the modern world needs while it reels from this dystopia fuelled nightmare potentiality. If only allowing us time to regather ourselves some form of calm and peaceful debate, and vote, on the democratization of a shared repository where instead of being paid for subscribers and followers you're paid for the value you produce to society in the way of data to be consumed and used by these AI tools.

What About Video?

It's no secret that video and precisely platforms like youtube for long-form content or TikTok, Instagram, and Short Reel features are the way forward for advertising. Although this might be short-lived specifically for short-form informational-based content. It's already possible to transcribe audio and video into content that is easily ingestable, tokenized, and fed to current Large Language Models(LLMs) like ChatGPT or Alpaca(if your heart lies with a truly open source approach).

Video processing engines are already on the exponential curve of improvement. Meaning it won't be long before voice tone, inflection, emotional context and sub-context, language, movement, location and so much more are extracted from video content for AI training. Even details a person would never catch on to but an AI could absolutely detect through the way of pattern recognition. You're pretty much removing the needed details of much of this content without a user needing to watch said video at all.

More importantly, generated content that is indistinguishable from reality is already here in its early form. We see this already in places using both deep fakes and AI-generated images. This is a serious and present issue on most social media platforms so much so that it is no surprise that OpenAI uses these instances as examples of how safety needs to be a priority when releasing their AI models.

Could we be looking at pay-per-view for any content as well as being pushed ads directly through AI responses? The end of the "death-scroll" social media has become synonymous with? Or possibly social media platforms where posting AI-generated content means a platform ban?

A collage of portrait images in balck and white

Jose Avery who found Instagram fame for his posted portrait 'photos' confessed that his photos were A.I. generated. Jose previously insisted his photos were taken with a Nikon D810.

There's a discussion to be had about re-evaluating digitally generated art without human intervention. It's currently valued very poorly and for good reason. Up until this very moment, much of the digitally automated content we've consumed in entertainment media has been comically unconvincing while delivering very little value.

A good example is the Non-Player Character(NPC) dialogue and interaction capability gaming. These non-human characters being so limited in vocabulary and interaction would often remove the player from a sense of realism in a chosen AAA game. This is no longer the case and in the future will only be so if done intentionally. Question is, when do we start paying human actor salaries to AI actor owners, or even in a world where AI becomes sentient to AI actors themselves?

So much to unpack that it would be unfair to do so in just a single article - both scary and exciting times! Stay tuned for our next opinion piece on the "Dead Internet Theory and the AI-Generated content explosion." Or subscribe and get notified when our next article drops!

  1. OpenAI browse plugins release, - page
  2. A Photographer Who Found Instagram Fame for His Striking Portraits Has Confessed His Images Were Actually A.I.-Generated, Richard Whiddington, February 24, 2023 -
  3. ArtStation is hiding images protesting AI art on the platform, by Jess Wetherbed -

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