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HomeTechGood Search Borrows, Great Search … Steals?

Good Search Borrows, Great Search … Steals?

Lauren Goode, Kate Knibbs

And by the way, for a while, even when you worked on the Forbes story, it linked you to the Business Insider story. So “rough edges” is right. And again, I don’t have a problem. I’m an AI bull. I don’t have a problem with folks who are trying to figure it out, but maybe don’t roll it out until you figure it out. And also, maybe we need to figure out what the model is, so that all sides benefit, because this completely blows up the idea of how publishers and search engines have worked for the last 15 years.

Lauren Goode: And as I understand it, Forbes has actually disallowed AI search engines like Perplexity from scraping its site by basically disabling the robot.txt search engine crawlers. And yet somehow this is still happening?

Randall Lane: It raises a lot of larger issues. I think the larger question here is, how do we coexist? And again, Google, which has, whatever, trillion whatever dollars worth of market cap, is worth probably as much as almost every publisher in the world combined. But there is a relationship, and there is a partnership, where Google’s sending a lot of traffic to a lot of publishers and making an insane amount of money because of that. But how will that work when these kind of summarization machines are basically publishing?

So again, they call themselves a search engine, but they’re acting like a publisher, and it’s a one-way ticket. And I think that’s the inflection point we have here, where the technology, I think people, this is one of those things where people say, “Well, this is a problem that’s coming down the pike.” The problem’s here. So what are we going to do about it?

Kate Knibbs: What recourse do media outlets like Forbes have to stop this from happening other than speaking out? Maybe Perplexity will really, really take this criticism to heart and entirely change its model. But if it doesn’t, where do we go from here?

Randall Lane: Well, there are a bunch of paths. There could be a legal path, which we don’t want, but when people steal, that’s the obvious, that’s the easiest. But long-term, you become a game of whack-a-mole. That’s not very practical. The second would be, there’s a perpetual war. But the third path, with technology that is generally figured out is, what’s a coexistence that’s fair for all sides?

You see, OpenAI has started doing partnerships with publishers, but that’s partnerships to train. That’s different from taking the content and creating derivative content that’s very duplicative of the core content. So we’re entering a new sphere. Perplexity in, quote, unquote, “coincidentally,” right after this incident, said, “Oh, well, we’re rolling out a new partnership model with publishers.” But again, it remains to be seen what that will look like. Taking something that costs us, literally stories like this, when you talk about all the reporting and all the time that goes in the art and the design and the editing, you’re talking about content that’s cost thousands or, even in this case, tens of thousands of dollars.

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