The Conversational Internet
Everything will be conversational in the next era of the internet
Let’s talk about Google IO, Amazon’s responds to the AI arms race, and why this is the beginning of the conversational era of technology.
The AI arms race
I’d say Google had a great week with all their announcements. It’s not like they had to go back to the drawing board. Google already had a great handle on AI technology, and actually built the “Transformer” that’s currently being used by Open AI and ChatGPT (the ‘T’ in ChatGPT stands for transformer, in case you were wondering).
In fact, their research indicates that AI computations are doubling every 6 months, far outpacing Moore’s law (which was chip processing capacity doubling every 2 years and becoming smaller and cheaper over time).
If that’s true, then AI’s evolution from baby to adult is upon us. It’s moving a little fast, and Sam Altman, founder of OpenAI is concerned enough to warn congress and ask for regulation.
Back to Google IO. Here are some of the more interesting announcements that will impact the business world immediately:
Generative AI search
The experience will take your search queries and give you AI-powered snapshots of key information to consider with links to dig deeper and suggested next steps — and when you click on these follow-up prompts, you’ll see a new conversational mode where you can ask Google more about the topic you’re exploring.
As for what this means for SEO, well, Mustafa Suleyman, formerly of Google’s DeepMind, says that:
And I think the problem with what Google has, I guess in a way accidentally, done to the internet is that it has basically shaped content production in a way that optimizes for ads, and everything is now SEO-ed to within an inch of its life.
Now, that has to stop. That's over. That moment is done, and we can now talk to computers in fluent natural language — and that is the new interface.
More on this in a moment.
Generative AI shopping
A new generative AI shopping experience is built on Google’s Shopping Graph. When searching for a product, you’ll get a snapshot of products that fit the bill, up-to-date reviews, ratings and prices, and more.
Again, this will be done more and more with natural language, not us trying to understand and speak “google”.
Google Workspace powered by AI
Otherwise known as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. Apparently, AI features have helped people with writing over 180 billion times (Dr. Evil pinky pose). But those features were more in the background (think autocomplete and offering suggestions for your next words).
But now generative AI will be your helpful assistant as you work on that next category-defining business plan. That’s where Tailwind, another “experiment” by Google, comes in.
Tailwind is an AI-first notebook designed to accelerate learning. This innovative tool, still in its early stages, can compile personalized study guides and glossaries from your notes and sources, offering endless possibilities for students, researchers, analysts, and more.
Here’s a snippet from the event:
Imagine collaborating with an AI that’s grounded in what you’ve read in all of your notes.
This next era of everyone having an assistant, or a co-pilot, or, dare I say it, “companion”, is pretty dang exciting.
Iron Man had Jarvis. Michael Knight had Kitt. Luke had C3PO and R2D2. And Scotty had Computer.
I want mine. Whatever.
Amazon says, “I’m still here”
Last month Amazon said, “Enough!” then launched Bedrock, putting its stake in the ground of the generative AI race.
“Applying machine learning to the real world — solving real business problems at scale — is what we do best,” Vasi Philomin, VP of generative AI at AWS, told TechCrunch in a phone interview. “We think every application out there can be reimagined with generative AI.”
Watch out Microsoft and Google. The 800 pound gorilla just entered the chat.
The Conversational Internet
The current structure of the internet is a bit dated. It’s dated because it’s still humans adjusting to machines (as advanced as machines currently are), rather than the other way around.
Problems of UX and CX really come down to how we interface with the internet as a whole or in parts, which comes down to how well the UI designer and copywriter can communicate in a universal way. Meaning, we still have to “onboard” people into an app or website in order to become a user of that app.
Why? Because it’s not natural, or native to us (not all of us, anyway).
Sure, we don’t have to communicate with computers using basic syntax like the old days, or endless lists of ones and zeros, but it’s still, shall we say, not exceptionally dynamic—or human. That is, until today.
Because of the rapid progress of AI, the entire structure of the internet is about to change. And yes, I can confidently say that. ChatGPT was the fastest growing “app” of all time, obliterating TikTok’s old record.
Canary, meet coal mine.
But ChatGPT, Bard, or what have you, is only the beginning. Something unprecedented is taking place (and perhaps the younger generations might not appreciate it as much). And it’s this:
We can now use natural language, something we’ve been trained in since birth, and the machine will “understand” us.
We don’t need ones and zeros. We don’t need to understand and use one of the 20 most popular coding languages to communicate with machines. No.
Sure, we still need the amazing capabilities of dedicated engineers and coders to make this happen, and thank you to all of them for making this technology available to us layfolk (or for unknowingly starting armageddon, for all I know).
Admittedly our worst case scenario
But in the next few years, conversation will become the default norm for interacting on the internet. And it will happen so fast, you won’t know what hit you (or your website).
Think about this. We can now code using natural language. We can search for things communicating in “googlese” OR we can use a simple conversation. And now Google is betting on the latter (or shifting course because of Microsoft’s power move with OpenAI).
Websites will become conversations. Brands will become more conversational as a result. If we can code using natural language, search & shop (now) conversationally, or get some assistance with writing and researching conversationally, what comes next?
Conversational everything? Bet on it.
And there won’t be one or two big players. Expect a flood, eh, more like a tsunami, of AI companies and chatbots, say in the billions, entering the market over the next decade.
Some AIs will be more personal to you, an assistant or a companion. Some AIs will be more capable in certain domains, like education, medicine, or research. But they’re coming — like the British. Coming like Winter. Coming like… I’ll just leave that one right there.
If anything has proven to be true, it’s that it only takes one big technological shift to upset and reset people’s expectations of what’s possible.
People will want to interact more conversationally. People will expect more from brands first — loyalties be damned. Then perhaps their institutions.
Education faces a reckoning and is coming to grips with its new AI reality as I write this. People will shift trust from their financial institutions to their personal AIs. Watch.
Is there a dark side? Of course. Will personal AIs keep people in their bubbles? Will it cater to their biases and bigotry? Of course. How that all plays out depends on how well AI, as a technology, will get regulated. Sam Altman is asking for it. What say you?
Take a breath
In the end, creating a great business is still about people. Not interfaces. Not chatbots. Not websites. Not SEO. People.
Technology is an enhancer, an amplifier, and, my personal moniker for AI, augmented intelligence. If you’re bad at business, it just means you’re bad, or say, not as good at people as your competitors.
Human is still the way, and no amount of good tech can save a bad approach to marketing, UX, data, or customer experience. If anything, technology must become more conversational because nothing is more human than a simple conversation.
So take heart. Remember the basics. Take care of your Xs, meaning, take care of your people. Use technology to enhance, amplify, and augment your capabilities and comms. The rest will take care of itself.
Have a great weekend all.