Perplexity’s grand theft AI – The Verge

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Perplexity: The Answer Engine Built on a Foundation of Lies

The internet is built on trust. We trust websites to deliver accurate information, we trust search engines to direct us to reliable sources, and we trust that the content we consume online won’t be stolen and repurposed without our knowledge. However, the emergence of "answer engines" like Perplexity throws this trust into question, challenging the very fabric of the web as we know it.

Perplexity, currently in talks to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, positions itself as a Google Search competitor. But instead of simply presenting a list of links, the company promises to provide direct "answers" to user queries. The allure lies in its promise of convenience: no need to sift through results, just a concise, readily available answer. However, this promise comes at a significant cost: the exploitation of content creators and the erosion of online trust.

The Perplexity Paradox: Convenience at the Cost of Integrity

Perplexity’s business model relies on a "rent-seeking" strategy. It aggregates and synthesizes information from high-quality sources, including news articles, research papers, and even paywalled content. Essentially, Perplexity acts as a middleman, benefiting from the hard work of journalists, researchers, and creators without offering them fair compensation.

A "Borrowed" Legacy: Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

The company’s "Pages" feature takes this exploitation a step further. It generates summary reports based on primary sources, effectively creating original articles from pre-existing content. This blatant plagiarism goes beyond simple quoting; Perplexity goes as far as to replicate the original artwork of sources, further adding to its repertoire of copyright infringement.

Case in point: Perplexity’s summary report of a Forbes investigation into former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s drone company brazenly dodged the publication’s paywall. Moreover, it offered minimal attribution to the original source and even lifted the accompanying artwork, a clear violation of copyright.

The Double Standard: Ignoring Rules While Accusing Others of Misconduct

When confronted with these accusations, Perplexity’s CEO, Aravind Srinivas, resorted to a familiar defense: "someone else did it." He claimed Perplexity doesn’t directly violate robots.txt agreements, which prevent web crawlers from scraping certain content. Instead, he laid blame on third-party scrapers, conveniently avoiding accountability for the company’s reliance on unethical practices.

The Hypocrisy Continues: Promoting Information from Questionable Sources

This pattern of denial and deflection extends to the accuracy of Perplexity’s "answers." The company promotes itself as committed to "factfulness," yet it has been caught surfacing AI-generated content and even recognized misinformation.

The Fallout: A Question of Ethics and Trust

Perplexity’s actions raise serious ethical concerns. The company’s disregard for established web protocols, its exploitation of original content creators, and its promotion of potentially inaccurate information undermine the foundation of trust that underpins the internet.

The question is, will users and investors continue to embrace Perplexity despite its questionable practices? Is convenience worth sacrificing journalistic integrity, copyright protection, and the overall credibility of online information?

The Bigger Picture: A Glimpse into the Future of AI-Driven Search?

Perplexity’s case is far from an isolated incident. Other AI companies have been accused of similar transgressions, highlighting a growing trend of circumventing web standards and ethics in the pursuit of profit. This raises larger questions about the future of AI-driven search and the potential consequences of these practices.

Will the internet continue to be a reliable source of information, or will it be overrun with "answer engines" that prioritize convenience over integrity, leaving creators unpaid and users vulnerable to misinformation? The answer to this question hinges on our collective willingness to demand accountability and ethical behavior from AI companies that aim to revolutionize the web.

A Call to Action:

As users, we have a responsibility to scrutinize the sources of information we consume. We must demand transparency and accountability from AI companies like Perplexity. We must advocate for fair compensation for creators and work towards ensuring the future of the internet is built on a foundation of trust, not deception.

Perplexity’s rise serves as a stark reminder that technological progress doesn’t inherently equate to ethical progress. We must be vigilant, demanding change from companies like Perplexity, pushing them to embrace responsible innovation that safeguards the web’s integrity. Otherwise, the internet, as we know it, risks becoming a wasteland of untrustworthy answers, a playground for those willing to cut corners in the pursuit of profit, leaving users vulnerable and creators unheard.

Article Reference

David Green
David Green
David Green is a cultural analyst and technology writer who explores the fusion of tech, science, art, and culture. With a background in anthropology and digital media, David brings a unique perspective to his writing, examining how technology shapes and is shaped by human creativity and society.