Ma Google and AI

It’s hot and I don’t like it. The end. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that. Otherwise, I’ve been busy fixing, and resurrecting my online business. Apparently, it got hacked a while back, or something strange happened, and the site hadn’t been functioning. I wasn’t aware.

I figured the drop in traffic was due to Google and their bombshell changes back in March. Over the past year, they had continually been adopting changes that made it much more difficult for independent websites to be found in search results.

Independent sites have been pretty much destroyed by Google’s search results and AI over the past six months. Many small website owners are reporting traffic declines by as much as 90%. Why? Google’s use of AI and Reddit, primarily. Google recently entered into a multi-million dollar contract with Reddit, and that’s why you see Reddit results dominating nearly any search query, along with Quora, paid ads, and AI generated text.

Recently, I’ve literally searched for specific business names “in quotes”, and couldn’t find them using Google. Maybe if I looked through 7-8 pages of results, I’d finally find it. Google needs to do better.

The AI generated text on the top of most search queries, could be argued to be plagiarized content from creators like myself. If Google wants to be a content creator, then fine. Just stop pretending to be a search engine, and cite your sources.

Speaking of artificial intelligence, I’ve been seeing it showing up everywhere. It’s on Facebook and even Amazon. People, with firsthand knowledge of the technology, have been warning about AI for years, but the rest of us didn’t quite understand why. Now we’re starting to realize the implications, both the good and the bad, and AI is still in its infancy.

I’m not against AI technology. I think it can be very useful in many applications, but laws and regulations aren’t in place to ensure it doesn’t do harm, and that it’s playing by the same rules the rest of us have to abide by.

Yesterday, I watched a documentary on the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt. In its prime, Alexandria was known for being the capital of knowledge and learning. Alexandria’s library contained, what was then, much of the knowledge and written records of the ancient world. When the library burned, it’s estimated that a half a million scrolls were lost. If those records hadn’t been lost, civilization would likely have advanced in technology and science much sooner.

So, I’m not against a virtual global library (the internet) and AI learning from it, but credit and/or monetization needs to go to those creating the content in which AI is displaying. Such laws and regulations haven’t caught up with the realities of AI, yet.

AI can be an amazing tool. After all, I sure never would have made it through college without spellcheck and grammar tools, because I can’t spell worth a darn on my own. Toss in all the typos I make and, yikes! Thank goodness for technology, but humans (and businesses) ultimately have to be in control and responsible for whatever content they produce with AI.

Getting the site back up and running sure took me back to my early days of creating websites, way back in the mid 90s and early 2000s. That itself seems like ancient history now.

Being up past midnight, looking through lines of code, troubleshooting, searching for answers, was just like old times. I don’t miss that part, at all. It’s much easier to create websites today, because there are so many tools to help, enabling almost anyone to manage a website.

Today’s problem is enabling websites and information to be found on the internet. Do we want Google-generated AI and Reddit forums being the primary source of information on the web? We can’t allow one company to rule the internet and be capable of destroying thousands of businesses with one algorithm change. That’s what online small businesses deal with daily.

I remember when I was a kid hearing about “Ma Bell”, being broken up. It had a monopoly in phone communications. Maybe it’s time for “Ma Google” to get the same treatment, and for lawmakers to seriously look at AI and all its implications to online businesses and knowledge.