The death of the uncurated internet

2023-04-12 on

We are nearing the end of a period of time between the dawn of the internet and the rise of humanlike machine generated content. For a brief moment, it was possible to quickly find an answer written by a human to nearly any question you had. The answer might not have been high quality, but with a little bit of digging and some critical thinking, the better answers were identifiable. However, the rise of machine generated content has begun to radically change this. For the first time, machines are capable of generating arbitrary content which sounds like it was written by a human. I predict that, within a few years time, the uncurated internet will be dead as we know it.

First, machine generated content will flood the internet. Search results will be full of generated content about trending topics, which will make it difficult to find accurate information. This problem will be exacerbated for political or otherwise controversial topics. Obscure topics, however, will be relatively safe from generated content. Search engines will have a hard time keeping up with the influx of machine generated spam.

To combat the issue of machine generated spam, websites begin demanding proof of human identity. Captchas are easily broken by machines and become useless. Instead, sites begin to use government IDs as a form of verification. This puts more strain on the government ID system, and many people are locked out of the internet. Some sites offer users an ultimatum to either get verified or have their accounts terminated. Verified accounts sell for high prices on the black market. Many sites decide to shut down instead of adopting human verification.

Anonymous posting on the internet mostly goes away, except for a few obscure forums. Some forums adopt an invite-only scheme for user registration. Many forums shut down due to an unmanageable influx of spam.

As a result of this, people turn to alternative sources of truth. Search engines now only index content from trusted sources. Curated directories of content become more popular. More fields begin to adopt peer-reviewed journals to publish and disseminate information. Physical and digital libraries grow more important for research. Expertise becomes more valuable, and people will pay hefty prices for advice from consultants.

Machine generated content may very well be the death of the uncurated internet. Personally, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully this will inspire people to be more diligent in curating high-quality information, and to place a higher emphasis on trust and peer review.