Who makes money when AI reads the internet for us?

Last week, The Browser Company, a startup that developed the Arc web browser, was released A new iPhone app called Arc Search. Instead of displaying links, its new “Browse for Me” feature reads the first handful of pages and summarizes them into a custom-designed, Arc-formatted web page using large language models from OpenAI and others. Arc Search blocks ads, cookies, and trackers by default if the user navigates to any of the actual pages. Arc’s efforts to re-imagine the way the web is viewed near universal acclaim. But in the past few days, “Browse for Me” has earned The Browser Company its first online reaction.

For decades, websites have advertised and enticed visitors to pay for subscriptions. Monetizing traffic is one of the main ways most creators continue to make money online. Reducing the need for people to visit actual websites deprives those creators of compensation for their work and discourages them from publishing anything at all.

“Web creators are looking to share their knowledge and get support while doing it,” he tweeted Ben Goodger, a software engineer who helped create both Firefox and Chrome. “I understand how it helps users. How does it help creators? Without them, there is no web…” After all, if a web browser can absorb all the information from web pages without the need for users to actually access them, why would anyone bother creating websites in the first place?

This backlash made the company’s co-founder and CEO, Josh Miller, question the very essence of how to make money online. Miller, who was formerly a product director at the White House and worked at Facebook after it acquired its previous startup, Branch, he said Goodger on X needs to evolve how creators monetize web pages. That too he said PlatformerCasey Newton said that generative AI presents an opportunity to “shake up the stagnant oligopoly that rules much of the Internet today,” but admitted that he doesn’t know how the writers and creators who create the actual website that his browser breaks will be compensated. . “It absolutely elevates the economics of publishing on the Internet,” he said.

Miller declined to speak to Engadget, and The Browser Company did not respond to Engadget’s questions.

Arc has set itself apart from other web browsers since its general public release in July of last year by fundamentally rethinking how web browsers look and work. It did this by adding features like the ability to split multiple tabs vertically and offering a picture-in-picture mode for Google Meet video conferences. But over the past few months, Arc adds rapidly Automatic web page summarization, ChatGPT integration, and AI-powered features that let users change their default search engine to Google’s rival Perplexity use AI to answer search queries by summarizing web pages in a chat-style interface and provide small citations to sources. Browse for me places Arc in the middle of one of the AIs is the biggest ethical problem: who pays creators when AI products hack and repurpose their content?

“The best thing about the Internet is that someone who is passionate about something creates a website about what they love,” tech entrepreneur and blogger Anil Dash told Engadget. “This new feature of Arc eliminates and reduces that.” One post In Threads shortly after Arc released the app, Dash criticized modern search engines and AI chatbots that aim to siphon the web’s content and stop people from visiting websites, calling them “deeply destructive.”

According to Dash, it’s easy to blame the pop-ups, cookies and intrusive ads that power the economic engine of the modern internet as the reason browsing is now broken. And there may be signs that users are warming to the concept of having their data aggregated by large language models rather than manually clicking through multiple web pages. Thursday, Miller he tweeted people chose “Browse for Me” over a regular Google search in Arc Search on mobile for about 32 percent of all queries. The company is currently working on building this default search experience and bringing it to the desktop browser.

“It’s not intellectually honest to say it’s better for users,” Dash said. “We’re only focused on short-term user benefit and don’t think users want to be fully aware of the impact they’re having on the entire digital ecosystem by doing so.” A food blogger sums up this double-edged sword he tweeted On Miller, “As a consumer, it’s awesome. As a blogger, I’m terrified.”

Last week, The Boston Globe’s vice president of platforms, research and development, Matt Karolian, wrote “top Boston news” to Arc Search and hit the “Browse for me” button. Within seconds, the app scanned local Boston news sites and provided a list of headlines that included local events and weather updates. “News outlets are going to lose their minds about Arc Search,” Karolian said placed About Threads. “It will read your journalism, summarize it for the user… and then block the ads if the user clicks on the link.”

Karolian told Engadget that local news publishers depend almost entirely on selling ads and subscriptions to readers who visit their websites to survive. “It’s deeply disappointing when technology platforms come along and take away that experience without considering the potential impact.” Arc Search includes prominent links and citations to the websites it aggregates. But Karolyan said that he misses the point. “When you release products like this, you don’t think about the consequences of what happens.”

Arc Search isn’t the only service that uses artificial intelligence to aggregate data from web pages. Google, the world’s largest search engine, now offers AI-generated summaries of users’ queries at the top of their search results. called before “A bit like dropping a bomb in the center of the data link.” Arc Search, however, goes one step further and removes search results entirely. Meanwhile, Miller continued to tweet throughout the controversy vague ideas it’s admittedly about websites in the “AI-first internet” as well as releasing products based on concepts it hasn’t yet resolved.

On top of it last episode On The Vergecast, where Miller appeared, he compared what Arc Search could do to the internet economy to what Craigslist did to the business models of print newspapers. “I think it’s absolutely true that Arc Search and the fact that we cut through the clutter and BS and get you faster and get what you need in less time is objectively good for the vast majority of people, and it is also true that he broke something,” he says. “It slightly distorts the exchange of value. We’re fighting a revolution in how software works and how computers work, and that’s going to mess things up.”

from Carolian Globe He said the behavior of tech companies applying artificial intelligence to online content reminded him of a monologue delivered by Ian Malcolm, one of the film’s main characters. Jurassic park to park creator John Hammond about applying the power of technology without considering the impact: “Your scientists have been so busy they couldn’t stop if they had to, or not.”

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