I spent a decade listening to numerous prophets and gurus explaining how, after social (web 2.0), the web will reach its next paradigm: web 3.0. During this decade, what would redefine the web has been a wave of dead-on-arrival ideas and technologies. The Semantic Web, the Internet of Things, SoLoMo (you forgot this one, didn't you?), 5G, crypto, and the Metaverse.
All these technologies worked; they didn't change much.
They were inventions, not innovations.
As such, I wouldn't blame you for considering AI just another fad. But I'd bet against you on this one. The reason is simple: none of the aforementioned technologies brought anything remarkable enough that everyone would pause while trying an early version of it and immediately understand that their life or job would immediately change. For each one of them, understanding the potential for change would always require a long-winded explanation and a leap of faith about a key turn-around event. Not for AI, or at least its current LLM flavor.
I won't jump here into an intricate discussion of what I see in AI that I never saw in the other techs. Let me just say that if AI delivers on its current promises, something quite extraordinary will happen, with outcomes that will destroy the web and reconfigure it in ways no one can predict.
The reason is SEO.
Hear me out... The vast majority of our current web is designed from the ground up to be crawlable and referenceable by the Google search engine. To the point that anything that isn't is labeled as the Dark Web. But if LLMs win, this whole logic of producing "search-optimized" content disappears.
The problem Google has with ChatGPT and the next derivatives of this technology is not the technology itself but the business model it would entail. You see, Google is not in the business of giving you the best answer possible to a query; it's in the business of making you click on an ad. If you ask for the best TV under €1,000, Google has to ensure that you will see ad placements paid by its customers at the top of the list. - The year the GAFAMs could disappear. Episode 1, Google
The likes of ChatGPT are crawling before any request is made, digest "the web," and spit out anything from where to buy a lawnmower to writing Shakespearian sonnets for your school essay. Anything that has been said, written, filmed, sponsored, or linked to this last decade of Web 2.0 was directly or indirectly about Google (or Baidu) being able to see it and serve it back to others.
When this ends, no one knows what it will mean. It's a jump in purely unknown waters.