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Making a Deal with the AI Devil

Someone I regard highly recommended as a search engine replacement. I headed straight there and signed up. I even bought the pro package (I believe in paying to use other people’s IP).

And then . . . my wife sent me an article in Wired Magazine called Perplexity is a Bullshit Machine.  Ooooof.  It’s pretty damning. Basically, the 411 is this (from Wired Magazine)

. . . ignoring a widely accepted web standard known as the Robots Exclusion Protocol to surreptitiously scrape areas of websites that operators do not want accessed by bots, despite claiming that it won’t.

Basically, they’re stealing and lying about it.

Perplexity is summarizing not actual news articles but reconstructions of what they say based on URLs and traces of them left in search engines like extracts and metadata, offering summaries purporting to be based on direct access to the relevant text.

Basically, they’re making stuff up. Hallucinating. Bullshitting.

Besides the question, “Who do I trust, Perplexity or Wired Magazine,” this reminds me that we don’t like tradeoffs.

We think it’s easy to choose between good and evil, or “Cake or Death,” as Eddy Izzard famously said. I don’t see much evidence of that, but maybe.

Harder still are choices between two seemingly good things, like Strawberry jam or cherry jam. Or things that are mostly good and only somewhat bad. Like using Perplexity because of the convenience and ignoring all the micro-violations of other people’s intellectual property because the individual harms don’t seem that bad.

I moved my AI patronage to a different provider, one I “trust” is less harmful to IP owners than Perplexity.

What I should do is go back to searching the old(er) fashioned way—actually reading threads, posts, and articles rather than relying on yet another “go fast and break things,” VC capital-engorged, “I want to rule the world” company to make my life a tiny increment more convenient.