Former Googler Says AI Is Driven By 'Stone-Cold Panic'

Scott Jenson, former Google user interface strategist and designer, wrote in a LinkedIn post that the artificial intelligence (AI) projects he worked on were “poorly motivated” and driven by “mindless panic.” AI would make all projects great, the company thought.

“This myopia is NOT something driven by user need,” he wrote. “It is a stone-cold panic that they are getting left behind.”

There’s no shortage on social media of people sharing everything from political grievances to warning shots about how companies treat employees or complete projects, but he called the vision of a “Tony Stark like Jarvis assistant in your phone that locks” users into the ecosystem to the extent that they will never leave “pure catnip.”

He wrote that the exact thing occurred 13 years ago with Google+. Facebook’s success created a “similar hysterical reaction” at Google.
Apple also has had a similar reaction with attempts to lock in users with Siri and its other projects.



“When the emperor, eventually, has no clothes, they'll be lapped by someone thinking bigger,” he wrote.

He acknowledges that there being a value to AI, but it’s not well motivated, and is causing mistrust among advertisers and agencies as well as paid and organic search professionals.

Ask, Not Search, Or Maybe Seask?

Nonetheless, are you ready to give up the term “search” for some other form of descriptor, as AI cannibalizes what the industry has relied on for decades.

Why do we need a search engine and AI engine? Basically, because Google and Microsoft have not figured out how to monetize long queries such as “find me a green shirt I can wear on St. Patrick’s Day, give me driving directions to the store, and confirm I can pick up the item today.”

Marketers have told me the industry needs two types of search engines, but I believe eventually the two will combine into one.

Industry insiders are beginning to wonder if artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually cannibalize traditional search, something I wrote about in December.

"The term search engine will have to go," said Mike Grehan, in an email to Search & Performance Insider, in 2023. "Search engines were invented so people could crawl the world wide web and find documents. And just writing those words suggests something from 1999."

The very first search engine, Archie, was released on September 10, 1990 by Alan Emtage, a McGill University student in Montreal. It was developed as a school project in an attempt to index content. Gopher, an internet application, made the database searchable.

Rethinking Metrics And What To Call Search

Those leading ad platforms into the next version of organic media and search advertising are rethinking what they call their respective search engines. Ask, a throwback from Ask Jeeves, seems to have become the most common.

How do Google and Microsoft measure long and complex queries?

Brave, a privacy-focused company what integrated AI into its search engine did so to create a real-time answer engine in a move that followed what Perplexity accomplished.

“With the new Brave Search and its integration of Answer with AI, users get the best of both worlds — one place to get generative answers as well as up-to-date links, providing instant and highly relevant results,” Brave Chief of Search Josep Pujol said in a statement at the time.

The company is using large language models (LLMs), such as Mixtral 8x7B and Mistral 7B with data from its search results and retrieval augmented generation (RAG) to generate answers almost instantly.

In April, Perplexity Chief Business Officer Dmitry Shevelenko told Search & Performance Insider that when it adds advertising to its "ask engine" it will not serve the ads before the answers, and will not let advertisers pay to bias or sponsor an answer.

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