AI search is a doomsday cult

Read to the end for a black cat eating a whole rotisserie chicken while Mamma Mia by ABBA plays in the background

Does anyone even want an AI search engine?

You’ve probably already noticed your search engines are starting to “evolve”. Google and Bing have already added both AI-generated results and conversational chatbots to their respective search engines. The Browser Company, a startup that made a big early splash thanks to its mission statement of building a better internet browser, has launched an AI summary search. And OpenAI is reportedly building its own search engine to compete directly with Google. Even Reddit, one of the last oases of human-generated advice on the web, will soon start selling its user data to an AI company.

Curiously, though, at no point amid our current AI arms race have the companies stuffing AI into our search engines and browsers offered any guidance as to what happens to the web if this truly is the future of the way we find things online. And it may be the best evidence yet that the AI industry is still completely engulfed in hype. 

The first shot fired in the war to build an AI portal to the web was from Microsoft. The company invested a billion dollars in OpenAI in 2019 and after the company’s buzzy generative-AI tools, DALL-E 2 and ChatGPT, were released to the public, Microsoft began trying to cram them into their respective suite of software.

In May of 2023, I was invited to the unveiling of Bing’s new AI search, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4. I stood among a row of tablets in a Manhattan loft and asked the search engine basic questions, which didn’t get me very far. Eventually an employee working the event came over and showed me how to ask it in specific ways that could generate huge summaries of existing web content. This sort of defeated the point of talking to a chatbot like it’s a person, if you ask me.

Though, I did come away from the event with a cool framed image of an AI-generated Minion, which I now hang on my wall in my apartment. My girlfriend hates it.

I love him.

A few months later, in July, Google began rolling out its own AI-powered search, Bard, worldwide and the race was on.

These AI-hybrid browsers and search engines have progressed considerably in the past year. Google’s Bard has since been renamed Gemini, and continues adding more features. A recent, extremely impressive demo of Gemini 1.5 Pro revealed that it’s now capable of using image recognition to search for specific scenes and movements in videos. Still, the summaries they generate aren’t necessarily better written than the blogs and websites they pull their information from. Nor do they even populate the chat window faster than a normal search would. But when they aren’t hallucinating, what they’re capable of is still impressive, though it’s a bit like watching a dog walk around on two legs — fun, but not exactly an efficient way to get around.

Generative AI, where it is right now, is not totally dissimilar from what happened during the cryptocurrency bubble during the height of the pandemic: Hundreds of startups, flush with cash from a bull market, started trying to build crypto-backed consumer products after they had already decided the technology was the future — not the other way around. 

Case in point: the Arc Browser.

For years, The Browser Company has been promising to save the internet. Its Arc Browser is a smart refresh of what a modern gateway to the web should look and feel like and it generated a lot of goodwill with early users. And then, earlier this month, they released their AI-powered search app, which “browses the internet for you.”

The Browser Company’s new app lets you ask semantic questions to a chatbot, which then summarizes live internet results in a simulation of a conversation. Which is great, in theory, as long as you don’t have any concerns about whether what it’s saying is accurate, don’t care where that information is coming from or who wrote it, and don’t think through the long-term feasibility of a product like this even a little bit.

But the base logic of something like Arc’s AI search doesn’t even really make sense. As Engadget recently asked in their excellent teardown of Arc’s AI search pivot, “Who makes money when AI reads the internet for us?” But let’s take a step even further here. Why even bother making new websites if no one’s going to see them? At least with the Web3 hype cycle, there were vague platitudes about ownership and financial freedom for content creators. To even entertain the idea of building AI-powered search engines means, in some sense, that you are comfortable with eventually being the reason those creators no longer exist. It is an undeniably apocalyptic project, but not just for the web as we know it, but also your own product. Unless you plan on subsidizing an entire internet’s worth of constantly new content with the revenue from your AI chatbot, the information it’s spitting out will get worse as people stop contributing to the network.

And making matters worse, if you’re hoping to prevent the eventual death of search, there won’t be a before and after moment where suddenly AI replaces our existing search engines. We’ve already seen how AI development works. It slowly optimizes itself in drips and drops, subtly worming its way into our various widgets and windows. Which means it’s likely we’re already living in the world of AI search and we just don’t fully grasp how pervasive it is yet.

Which means it’s not about saving the web we had, but trying to steer our AI future in the direction we want. Unless, like the Web3 bust, we’re about to watch this entire industry go over a cliff this year. Possible, but unlikely.

The only hope here is that consumers just don’t like these products. And even then, we have to hope that the companies rolling them out even care if we like them or not. Of course, once there’s an inescapable layer of hallucinating AI in between us and everyone else online, you have to wonder if anyone will even notice.

This essay was co-published with the fine folks at Fast Company. You can read a longer version of it over on their site by clicking here.

The following is a paid ad. If you’re interested in advertising, email me at [email protected] and let’s talk. Thanks!

Ok, what even is this thing on

Normally it’s straightforward - puts something up, cheap. If that’s something you want, you get it. But sometimes…it can be tricky to even figure out what it is. That’s today. No tricks, that up there is just a photo of the product. Maybe you already know what it is and you want it. Nice - just head over to

But maybe you’re like the rest of us and trying to figure out what that is, what you’d do with it…why you’d want it. In that case you should…head over to where there’s a community talking about this, probably people who've used it, heck, likely some expert in the field weighing in.

Every day there’s something like this on and every day you can stop by and learn a little bit more about the world. Or at least about weird things like whatever this is?

All Videos Are The Same Now

—By Adam Bumas

Netflix uploaded Nimona, its Best Animated Film Oscar nominee, on YouTube in full this week. It’s a smart choice for a movie with a very online audience, one that was initially based on a Tumblr doodle, fun fact. But if you step back for a sec, it’s also a fascinating snapshot of where both Silicon Valley and Hollywood are right now as their two respective galaxies collide into one another. Which is to say, there is almost no practical difference left between “big screen stuff you can watch on your phone” and “small screen stuff you can watch on your TV”.

But it’s not just Netflix’s slight gesture of surrender to YouTube’s domination of the American television. The anime Kaiju No. 8 premieres on X and Crunchyroll simultaneously in April. It joins some other “original programming” from the platform that Musk is still saying will be the banking app we use on Mars, like a talk show from former CNN anchor Don Lemon and an impossibly bad anti-woke sitcom starring Kevin Sorbo and Jon Lovitz. It stinks! 

But it’s not just X, the everything app (as long as you define “everything” as 240p dashcam videos and charts about race science), that’s racing to stick formally big budget entertainment into their feeds. TikTok is getting in on the fun too.

When Paramount chopped up Mean Girls on TikTok last year, an acknowledgement that TikTok teens had already discovered 12 Angry Men this way a few months before. A year later, TikTok is going horizontal and promoting longer-form content to look better on big screens. For what it’s worth, I’m young enough that I’ve actively put TikToks on a TV, but not often enough that I’d say it’s worth changing one of the most fundamental things about TikTok as a medium. Of course, I could be wrong.

Even though Nielsen reiterated yet again this week that YouTube is the most popular thing to put on any TV, it’s been adapting too. It launched color coordinated feeds as a pilot test, aimed at both reimagining what a TV channel even is and, also, one suspects, because they’re really trying to corner the market on hypnotizing toddlers.

Everyone’s trying to find some perfect fusion between the two kinds of streaming video that people will pay for, but the only attempt with actual money and production behind was called Quibi and we all know how that went. Except, it’s worth revisiting Quibi in light of all of this.

Even though Quibi got the solution wrong, it did diagnose the problem. If there’s no practical difference for a viewer between stuff on free apps and stuff on streaming services, then why pay for the second one? Well, between Netflix’s live-action Last Airbender and the Mr. and Mrs Smith Prime show, the answer continues to be "stuff from around 20 years ago.”

No, Pop Crave Was Not Unmasked


i feel like we just met gossip girl #popcrave #pcas #peopleschoiceawards #celebritynews #gossipgirl

Contrary to what this TikToker is claiming — and what a shocking amount of people on X and TikTok believe, apparently — that woman at the People’s Choice Awards is not Pop Crave. She probably works for Pop Crave, but Pop Crave is a media company with many employees. Though, I do think there’s something important being highlighted here, which is the Gen Z willingness to believe that a, frankly, massive news operation like Pop Crave could just be one lady with an iPhone.

I also wonder if that’s at least, partially, related to the extreme moments of TikToker cringe from the People’s Choice Awards. There is essentially an entire generation of somewhat influential young people with mildly valuable audiences that do not have any real sense of what “the media” was. And because they have these audiences they’re now being sent in to interact with the few remaining people left inside the bubble. Which, of course, is deeply mortifying for everyone involved.

I see this going two ways: As Adam wrote above, all media collapses into a nebulous soup of phone content and these TikTokers emerge as a sort of new top of the heap for whatever that world looks like. Or this happens a few more times, Gen Z realizes vaguely famous influencers are embarrassing the same way millennials did, and “TikToker” becomes a generation-defining pejorative term just like “Youtuber” is for anyone born between 1985-1995. Excited to see what happens!

Bobbi Althoff Is The Latest Celebrity Victim Of Non-Consensual Sexual Material

There are rumors the video was AI generated. Though, I want to be clear: That simply does not matter. There is no functional difference in either the impetus or the reaction between real leaked sexual material and synthetic images. And policymakers’ inability to understand that is preventing real solutions and hurting a lot of people, both famous and not famous.

Also, while we’re on the subject. All of these high-profile cases of “leaked” non-consensual sexual material are happening because of Elon Musk. Full stop. He gutted Twitter’s trust and safety team and its moderation infrastructure and effectively undid a decade’s worth of progress. This year is the ten-year anniversary ofTthe Fappening. We went from a world where celebrity leaks were a near-daily occurrence to one where they almost never happened anymore. And now we’re back to square one again. It doesn’t have to be this way, we know how to stop this sort of thing, and tech leaders like Musk are actively choosing to let it happen.

Baby Gronk Rizzed Up Livvy Dunne Again


Is Baby Gronk Officially The Rizz King? #babygronk #livvydunne #babygronkrizzeduplivvydunne #lsugymnastics #livvy #babygronkgoated #rizzed... See more

This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by thesupermikey. He can’t keep getting away with this!

Director Mike Flanagan Reviewed Madame Web On Letterboxd


Horror director Mike Flanagan wrote an extremely good review of Madame Web on Letterboxd. Also, it’s genuinely very exciting to watch Madame Web turn into a new camp classic. It’s webbin’ time, baby.

A Truly Incredible Video Game Trailer

You have to watch until 20 seconds in. Then everything will be clear.

Think About Supporting Garbage Day!

It’s $5 a month or $45 a year and you get Discord access and the coveted weekend issue. Hit the button below to find out more.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***


or to participate.