There is a machine learning bubble, but the technology is here to stay. Once the bubble pops, the world will be changed by machine learning. But it will probably be crappier, not better.

What will happen to AI is boring old capitalism. Its staying power will come in the form of replacing competent, expensive humans with crappy, cheap robots.

AI is defined by aggressive capitalism. The hype bubble has been engineered by investors and capitalists dumping money into it, and the returns they expect on that investment are going to come out of your pocket. The singularity is not coming, but the most realistic promises of AI are going to make the world worse. The AI revolution is here, and I don’t really like it.

  • @david
    18 months ago

    I don’t know why you want to use an AI to purchase goods and learn about products. That’s what the current www is really really strong at. Lots of people are spending an awful lot of money to make that information really easy to discover, and popular search engines definitely prioritise that information.

    Also, if an AI is to give you price and product information it’s going to have to be reading live web pages, which will of course be full of ads. SEO will become AIO/LLMO. There is no end to the time and money advertisers are prepared to pour into getting products in front of users. The irony is that you seem to want to view products and you have this weird perspective where you’re keen to avoid ads for products so that you can view marketing information about products without the ads.

    It’s already fairly hard to tell without knowing some good websites or reading through to conclusions and using some common sense whether a review website is honest or biased. I don’t know why you think an AI with access to the Internet will filter out fake reviews and content crafted to lead you to specific products over others.

    Also, downloading and configuring your own AI is unlikely to be the way the “AI revolution” comes. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple and other mega corporations will be funding the “AI revolution” and will not sit idly by allowing their kingdoms to crumble.

    The number of people who will be saved from the corporations that run the online world by open source grass roots AI will be smaller than the number of people who are saved by Linux from proprietory products and SAAS.

    Yeah, everyone will get used to using an AI to interact with the web, but it will be freely supplied by a corporation, and I PROMISE you the enshitification of AI has been long planned before we even reach step one of making it awesome for the masses.

      18 months ago

      That’s what the current www is really really strong at.

      You must be using a different WWW than I am, since product search for me is absolutely terrible. Even the simplest of queries can’t be answered, e.g. something trivial as “what’s the cheapest thing that matches query” fails due to some products coming different package sizes (e.g. 100g vs 1000g). If you want to buy a movie or game, and want to know about sequels and prequels, you have to go to Wikipedia to find out, since I have yet to see a single shop that organizes that well. Or try to find the equivalent of a product in another country where the original product isn’t available. Or try to search for the cheapest way to buy multiple product at once, taking shipping cost into account. Even just figuring out the size or what’s actually in the box is often impossible, I have yet to see another site that gives you a full CAD model of the products like McMaster-Carr.

      Product search on the Web is utter garbage. I am kind of surprises that nobody ever put serious effort into making that work well. Googles product search is garbage and most other search engines don’t even have a specific product search. A product search engine that automatically bundles up information from different, shops, Youtube videos and comments doesn’t exist as far as I know.

      Lots of people are spending an awful lot of money to make that information really easy to discover

      Amazon deliberately puts sponsored products on top to make it harder to discover what you want. Some small shops put effort into it and let you search products according the specs, but that only works in that single shop, I have yet to see a search engine that can handle that across multiple shop and with any semblance of reliability.

      Also, if an AI is to give you price and product information it’s going to have to be reading live web pages, which will of course be full of ads.

      Yes, but that’s irrelevant as long as only the AI reads it. I don’t care what ads my adblocker reads either.

      I don’t know why you think an AI with access to the Internet will filter out fake reviews

      I am not looking for reviews, but for reliable and detailed product information. An LLM can help gather that information from multiple different sources and format it in a unified way. SEO has limited influence on that, as either the product has those specs or it has not, in which case the LLM should be able to find contradictions in the information and automatically write a letter to whatever consumer protection office is responsible for false advertisement.

      Also, downloading and configuring your own AI is unlikely to be the way the “AI revolution” comes.

      Given the way privacy is getting traction in the public consciousness, I wouldn’t be so sure. Look at how many people already use adblockers, around 40% or so, that’s quite a lot, many of them will be upgrading to some form of AI driven adblocking and information gathering sooner or later.

      • @david
        8 months ago

        You know that a LLM is a statistical word prediction thing, no? That LLMs “hallucinate”. That this is an inevitable consequence of how they work. They’re designed to take in a context and then sound human, or sound formal, or sound like an excellent programmer, or sound like a lawyer, but there’s no particular reason why the content that they present to you would be accurate. It’s just that their training data contains an awful lot of accurate data which has a surprisingly large amount of commonality of meaning.

        You say that the current crop of LLMs are good at Wikipedia style questions, but that’s because their authors have trained them with some of the most reliable and easy to verify information on the Web. A lot of that is Wikipedia style stuff. That’s it’s core knowledge, what it grew up reading, the yardstick by which it was judged. And yet it still goes off on inaccurate tangents because there’s nothing inherently accurate about statistically predicting the next word based on your training and the context and content of the prompt.

        Yes, LLMs sound like they understand your prompt and are very knowledgeable, but the output is fundamentally not a fact-based thing, it’s a synthesized thing, engineered to sound like its training data.

          8 months ago

          You do not query the LLM directly. The LLM just provides the baseline language understanding. You use the LLM to extract information out of websites and convert it into a machine readable format. You can do that with ChatGPT today:

          Prompt: Extract important product information out of this text and format it as json:
          [copy and paste random website]
          Here's the important product information extracted from the text and formatted as JSON:
            "Product Name": "kwmobile 8 Port Patch Panel - RJ45 Cat6 Shielded Network Splitter Panel with Ground Wire",
            "Price": {
              "Discounted Price": "$20.99",
              "Typical Price": "$22.99"
            "Color": "Black",
            "Brand": "Kwmobile",
            "Connector Type": "RJ45",
            "Cable Type": "Ethernet",

          That’s the power of LLMs. They aren’t better a Google, they are a way to interface with semantic information stored in human readable text (or pictures or sound). And with that extracted information you can go and built a better Google or just let the LLM browse the web and search for information relevant to you.

          • @david
            18 months ago

            Well, sounds like you’re well on your way to hand-rolling your own product comparison tool that’s Powered By AI TM. You could make a popular price comparison site that initially filters out all that cruft and just gives you simple, clear, easy to read information about products.

            Version 2 could have handy links to the cheapest websites.

            Once it gets super popular you could offer retailers the chance to ensure their products and prices are correct. Perhaps a nice easy AI powered upload where you dump the info on whatever format you like, check it’s understood and go live.

            You could later offer retailers the chance to host a store front with you, or maybe allow initially just one or two, very tasteful, clearly marked-as-advertisment links for strictly AI-sanctioned relevant upselling, you know, offer the warranty with the product, or the printer with the fancier ink alongside the ones that exactly matched the criteria.

            Once your engagement with retailers is strong, and they know they’ll be missing out on a lot of custom, you can start maximising your income from them.

            Or, wait did this whole cycle repeat itself many times over with many websites and many corporations?

            Enshitification is real, and it’s already AI powered. We don’t know exactly why what’s in front of us when we’re online is the thing that is most likely to get us to keep scrolling and clicking and purchasing and maximising profits, but it’s reasonable to assume that on a lot of successful websites, some sort of AI system chose it for exactly those purposes.

            It’s nice that you feel AI will get us away from the power of the multinational corporations, but I think it’s vastly more likely that the AI we use will fall under their control and they will be twenty steps ahead of us. They were the ones who popularised it in the first place!

            (Personally, I tend to use some reviewing sites that I trust and in particular for phones, a spec agreggator so I can filter out the five year old products that amazon is offering me.)