The big AI steal from Perplexity

In every ad cycle, several patterns of fraud appear. In the last crypto boom, it was “ponzynomy” and “carpet pulling”. In self-driving cars, it was “just five years away!” In AI, you’re seeing how unethical you can get away with.

Perplexity is essentially a rent-seeking broker on high-quality resources

Perplexity, which is in ongoing talks to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, is trying to create a competitor to Google Search. Perplexity isn’t trying to create a “search engine”, though – it wants to create an “answer engine”. The idea is that instead of sifting through a bunch of results to answer your question with a primary source, you’ll just get an answer that Perplexity found for you. “Accuracy and precision is what we care about,” said Perplexity CEO Aravind Srinivas. threshold.

This means that Perplexity is essentially a rent-seeking broker on high-quality resources. The value proposition for search, initially, was that by scraping the work done by journalists and others, Google results sent traffic to those sources. But by providing an answer, instead of directing people to click through to a primary source, these so-called “answer engines” lose their primary source of advertising revenue – keeping that revenue for themselves. Perplexity is among a group of vampires that include Arc Search and Google itself.

But Perplexity has taken it a step further with its Pages product, which creates a summary “report” based on those primary sources. It’s not just quoting a sentence or two to directly answer a user’s question – it’s creating an entire condensed article, and it’s accurate in the sense that it’s actively plagiarizing the sources it uses.

Forbes found that Perplexity was dodging the publication’s paywall in order to provide a summary of an investigation the publication conducted into former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s drone company. although Forbes has a discreet paywall on some of its work, premium work – like that investigation – is behind a hard paywall. Not only did Perplexity somehow dodge the paywall, but it barely cited the original investigation AND collected original art to use for his report. (For those keeping track at home, the art thing is copyright infringement.)

“Someone else did it” is a good argument for a five-year-old

Hoarding isn’t a particularly new phenomenon – but the extent to which Perplexity can be hoarded, along with copyright infringement for the use of original art, is pretty, hmm, remarkable. In an effort to calm everyone down, the company’s business manager went to Traffic light to say that Perplexity was developing revenue-sharing plans with publications, and surprisingly, how it happened that everyone was so bad for a product still in development?

At this point, Wires jumped in, confirming a finding by Robb Knight: the scratch of Perplexity Forbes’ work was no exception. In fact, Perplexity has ignored the robots.txt code that explicitly tells web crawlers not to crawl the page. Srinivas replied Fast company that Actually, Perplexity was not ignoring robots.txt; it was just using third-party scratchers that ignored it. Srinivas declined to name the third-party crawler and did not commit to asking that crawler to stop violating robots.txt.

“Someone else did it” is a good argument for a five-year-old. And consider the answer further. If Srinivas wanted to be ethical, he had several options here. The first option is to terminate the contract with a third party scratch. The second option is to try to convince the scraper to honor robots.txt. Srinivas committed to neither, and it seems to me there is an obvious reason why. Even if Perplexity itself isn’t breaking the code, it depends on someone else breaking the code for the “answer engine” to work.

To add insult to injury, Perplexity plagiarized Wireshis article about it – though Wires explicitly blocks Perplexity in its text file. Most of it WiresS ‘ the plagiarism article is about remedies, but I’m interested in what’s going on here with robots.txt. It’s a trust agreement that’s stood for decades now, and it’s falling apart thanks to unscrupulous AI companies — that’s right, Perplexity isn’t the only one — scavenging just about anything available to train their stupid models. . And remember how Srinivas said he was committed to “factality?” I’m also not sure this is true: Perplexity is now surfacing AI-generated results and actual misinformation, Forbes reports.

To my ear, Srinivas was bragging about how charming and clever his lie was

We’ve seen many AI giants engage in dubious legal and possibly unethical practices in order to get the data they want. To prove Perplexity’s value to investors, Srinivas built a tool to scrape Twitter by pretending to be an academic researcher using API access for research. “I would call mine [fake academic] projects just like Brin Rank and all that kind of stuff,” Srinivas told Lex Fridman on the latter’s podcast. I assume “Brin Rank” is a reference to Google co-founder Sergey Brin; in my ear, Srinivas was bragging about how charming and clever his lie was.

I’m not the one telling you that the foundation of Perplexity is lying to avoid the established principles that hold the web up. Its CEO is. This is clarifying about the current value proposition of “response engines”. Perplexity cannot generate actual information on its own and instead relies on third parties whose policies it abuses. The Answer Engine was developed by people who feel free to lie whenever it’s most convenient, and this preference is necessary for how Perplexity works.

So that’s Perplexity’s real innovation here: breaking the foundations of trust that built the Internet. The question is whether any of its users or investors care.

Correction June 27: Remove the wrong reference to Axios – the interview in question was with Semafor.

#big #steal #Perplexity
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