In recent months, the signs and portents have been accumulating with increasing speed.
>Google is trying to kill the 10 blue links.
Twitter is being abandoned to bots and blue ticks. There's the junkification of Amazon and the enshittification of TikTok. Layoffs are gutting online media. A job posting looking for an "AI editor" expects "output of 200 to 250 articles per week."
>ChatGPT is being used to generate whole spam sites.
Etsy is flooded with "AI-generated junk."
Chatbots cite one another in a misinformation ouroboros. LinkedIn is using AI to stimulate tired users. Snapchat and Instagram hope bots will talk to you when your friends don't. Redditors are staging blackouts.
The Internet Archive is fighting off data scrapers, and "AI is tearing Wikipedia apart." The old web is dying, and the new web struggles to be born. The web is always dying, of course; it's been dying for years, killed by apps that divert traffic from websites or algorithms that reward supposedly shortening attention spans.
But in 2023, it's dying again -- and, as the litany above suggests, there's a new catalyst at play: AI.
Given money and compute time, AI systems — particularly the generative models currently in vogue — scale effortlessly. They produce text and images in abundance, and soon, music and video, too. Their output can potentially overrun or outcompete the platforms we rely on for news, information, and entertainment. But the quality of these systems is often poor.