back to article Google is wrong to put AI search features behind paywall, says HPC leader

You may have heard that Google is considering putting its latest AI search innovations behind a paywall, something that doesn't sit well with Rosanne Kincaid-Smith, COO at German HPC firm Northern Data Group.  Kincaid-Smith told us in an interview that Google is in a different position than firms like OpenAI and others that …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    If Google puts AI search behind a paywall

    then Bing, or someone, does not -- what will happen ? I suspect that many will go to the free AI search.

    1. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge

      Re: If Google puts AI search behind a paywall

      Or thank the lord that the paywall will stop AI infused search.

      1. Juha Meriluoto

        Re: If Google puts AI search behind a paywall

        That is great news indeed! No AI messing up searches!

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: If Google puts AI search behind a paywall

          I'm sorry to burst that hope. It's only 'YOUR' use of AI behind the paywall.

          Google will be merrily using it for everything they push into your face, especially the search results.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: If Google puts AI search behind a paywall

      They can be applauded for their ethical management (of AI) decision.

      Kincaid totally fails to convince; I suspect Northern Data Group are worried Google’s actions may result in reduced demand for HPCs…

  2. Tron Silver badge

    Brilliant news.

    We don't even have to turn it off. Maybe all AI could be put behind paywalls.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brilliant news.

      Or steel reinforced concrete walls, with a lid on top of it? With massive amounts of concrete pored on the inside too? A bit like they did in Chernobyl?

    2. andrewj

      Re: Brilliant news.

      Maybe Elon Musk could be behind a paywall too.....

  3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    I guess that the problem for Google is that if the AI scours google to construct an answer to a query then the user isn't seeing the ads which would accompany the searches and until AI has its own pocket money then Google won't get any ad-revenue. Unless, of course, it stuffs the AI's response full of ads, or includes product placement, or hides the output under the ketchup in a local Wimpy.

  4. Dinanziame Silver badge

    The problem is that AI costs a lot of money

    I recall that each query costs a few cents, and Google has billions of users. It's all very well to speak of democratization of access, and Google says they want to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful... But these days, they also really insist on not losing money.

    1. depereo

      Re: The problem is that AI costs a lot of money

      Google made a 27% margin on 300B of revenue in the last FY. They're not going to turn a loss any time soon.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The problem is that AI costs a lot of money

        Whilst a good pre tax etc. margin, not excessive; Microsoft’s was 42%, Apple 30%.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: The problem is that AI costs a lot of money

          Doesn't that just mean Googles R&D budget is probably a lot higher than MS & Apple?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: The problem is that AI costs a lot of money

            Depends on how it’s accounted for.

            Normally, if you are treating R&D as investment for tax purposes, it needs to come out of gross margin, although some costs will get treated as normal opex. This is where a good accountant is necessary, so you are maximising your tax kick backs.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "My own view on the democratization of access and also the ethos that drives our business is around allowing access to the transformative technology that AI will bring, and that includes in search results,"

    Can we cram a few more meaningless buzzwords in there?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Can we cram a few more meaningless buzzwords in there?

      I don't think they're meaningless buzzwords, they're kind of the point.

      Google has already allowed us access to their transformative AI technology. So now, when we type in exact phrases we're searching for, we get a bunch of loosely related search results based on whatever their algorithms have been trained to promote. I can copy & paste from a paper sitting in front of me, and Google either won't find it at all, or it'll be buried waay down the results. Google (and Bing) have transformed search for the worse. And I suspect that'll be what happens with paywalled versions, only you'll get less adds and promoted links with the paywalled version.

      I also detect some optimism. Sure, AlphaGoo could behave ethically, yet it's displayed no interests in doing so to date, and if anything, it's been steadily getting worse. It certainly moderates, but perhaps not in the way it should. I liked the example of Google promoting malicious links though. That is certainly something it should be able to prevent and moderate out. Especially given the way Google's built around link crawling and trawling. This is possibly something governments, regulators or just lawyers could fix by making Google liable for serving up those links. It's also a warning sign for all the regulations being proposed around 'fake news' and 'misinformation'. If AlphaGoo's giant silicon brains can't spot a malicious link, what chance do they have in detecting 'fake news' or 'misinformation'? Could SEO tricks be used to convince AIs that the Earth really is flat?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        So many thumbs! I guess all the layoffs from Google and other 'big tech' is creating plenty of time to get that thumb exercise in.

        Curious what people are objecting to though. Is it the idea that Google should be able to detect and filter malicious links? Isn't that a GoodThing(tm)? I suspect it's the idea that Google et al should be prevented from censoring non-official misinformation though.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Interviewer missed asking the obvious follow on question: are Northern Data Group also going to democratise access by providing public (for free) access to their “ state-of-the-art generative AI cloud platform”…

      What isn’t entirely clear is how Kincaid thinks Google giving AI stuff away for free will generate the revenues and market demand necessary to purchase the hundreds of HPCs she is hoping to sell.

  6. chuckufarley Silver badge

    So this is different from...

    ...Google making me log in to get good search results?

    I think a wall is a wall is a wall. Screw Google. They are building the future they deserve and it won't be the future they want.

    1. Philo T Farnsworth

      Re: So this is different from...

      Or Google is giving you non-hallucinated answers for free and making you pay for the hallucinations?

      Personally, if I want hallucinations, I'll just stay awake for three or four days (I'm too old to drop acid any more).

      1. EricB123 Silver badge

        Re: So this is different from...

        "(I'm too old to drop acid any more)"

        You are never too old, age is just a number.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: So this is different from...

          Aldous Huxley* asked for it on his deathbed

          *author of "The doors of perception" - about his experience with psychedelics (inspired a band name too)

        2. Philo T Farnsworth

          Re: So this is different from...

          Age is just a number like death is just a certificate. . .

          But getting back to AI, I'm sure most have seen those signs that say:

          Answers: 5 cents

          Correct Answers: 25 cents

          Dumb looks ae always free.

          Google seems to have it the other way around.

      2. stiine Silver badge

        Re: So this is different from...

        3 days? It takes me more than 6 to start seeing things.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be realistic. There are only two options a seach provider can offer

    1. Sell your privacy as the price for search

    2. Pay for search and give up (some of) your privacy for free.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Be realistic. There are only two options a seach provider can offer

      2. Pay for search and give up (some of) your privacy for free still sell your data.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Be realistic. There are only two options a seach provider can offer

        I don't think it needs fixing. If you are on a paying subscription for the service, then anything else you are giving up is (involuntary) gratis.

  8. xyz Silver badge

    Madam Googlina, Fortune Teller.

    Just cross my palms with silver and I'll tell yeh all, dearie.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is already behind a paywall - it's called Kagi

    Tbey've been smart enough to rip alll of the shit out of Google results and present useful stuff - remember that? Difference is it costs money. Heaven forbid Google misses out on that opportunity.

  10. Alan Bourke

    Fine by me

    it's an effective way to ignore it

  11. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    No paywall, please

    Given the quality of AI to date, it should be placed in a 55 gallon drum, topped off with concrete and dumped in the Mariana Trench.

  12. ChaosFreak

    If it's free, it's inaccurate

    While we'd all love everything to be free, the current surveillance capitalism, advertising based business model of the internet should have taught us that you pay for free stuff in other ways.

    With search, you pay for free search with inaccurate results that are littered with sponsored content, sometimes disguised so carefully as to fool the user.

    I think a lot of people would be happy to pay a small amount per month to know that the answers to their questions are the best, most accurate answers, and not the answers that sponsors paid Google the most to display.

  13. PRR Silver badge

    Thank you

    Thank you, Brandon, for using a subtitled service (youtube). On this and I see on the Gillham interview. I can follow along despite poor ears and dogs who go nuts for strange voices.

  14. Reginald O.

    Does Google and ethical AI product seem possible?

    In a generic sense paying for a productive AI service seems entirely reasonable. The problem is the thoroughly unethical and greedy Google elbwoing their way into the lead. And, that's not taking in account their very cozy relationship government mass surveillance opertations. Who are the good guys in the AI gold rush?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like