Why Google and Bing's Embrace of Generative AI Could Upend the ... - Singularity Hub

Google, Microsoft, and others boast that generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT will make searching the internet better than ever for users. For example, rather than having to wade through a sea of URLs, users will be able to just get an answer combed from the entire internet.

There are also some concerns with the rise of AI-fueled search engines, such as the opacity over where information comes from, the potential for “hallucinated” answers, and copyright issues.

But one other consequence is that I believe it may destroy the $68 billion search engine optimization industry that companies like Google helped create.

For the past 25 years or so, websites, news outlets, blogs, and many others with a URL that wanted to get attention have used search engine optimization, or SEO, to “convince” search engines to share their content as high as possible in the results they provide to readers. This has helped drive traffic to their sites and has also spawned an industry of consultants and marketers who advise on how best to do that.

As an associate professor of information and operations management, I study the economics of e-commerce. I believe the growing use of generative AI will likely make all of that obsolete.

How Online Search Works

Someone seeking information online opens her browser, goes to a search engine and types in the relevant keywords. The search engine displays the results, and the user browses through the links displayed in the result listings until...

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