Google’s broken link to the web

I guess now we know why for the past decade or so Google doesn’t seem to be valuing what used to be magical about Google — the ability to rank pages so effectively and connect users to web pages that met their needs. That’s just not what’s driving Google these days.

With AI search results coming to the masses, the human-powered web recedes further into the background.


Google’s move to answer more questions on the search engine results page is simply a continuation of a long-standing practice. But where the company once limited itself to gathering low-hanging fruit along the lines of “what time is the super bowl,” on Tuesday executives showcased generative AI tools that will someday plan an entire anniversary dinner, or cross-country-move, or trip abroad. A quarter-century into its existence, a company that once proudly served as an entry point to a web that it nourished with traffic and advertising revenue has begun to abstract that all away into an input for its large language models.

This new approach is captured elegantly in a slogan that appeared several times during Tuesday’s keynote: let Google do the Googling for you. It’s a phrase that identifies browsing the web — a task once considered entertaining enough that it was given the nickname “surfing” — as a chore, something better left to a bot.

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