by Shelt Garner
Here are some basic existing things that I’m using to game out the ultimate demise of the “passive Web” by, say, the end of the decade. (Excluding a pause to get the outcome of The Fourth Turning sorted out, of course.)
The first is the growing power and popularity of Large Language Models. Another is the growing power of computing hardware in general. Another is the fact that there is some techno-cultural determinism in LLMs solving some pretty basic problems with the Web as we know it. And last would be improving XR technology.
Ok, with all that in mind, it’s pretty easy to imagine that we literally could live in a Her movie-like future pretty soon. Everyone will wear a earpiece that allows them to have real-time conversations with a LLM digital assistant. The LLM’s dataset will be the entirety of the Web. The LLM will be finely tuned to your specific personality to the point that all of today’s bitching and moaning by conservatives about chatbot “bias” will seem quaint and silly.
Instead of searching Google, we will have casual, personal conversations throughout the day about whatever it is we need to know. Websites will no longer exist — or will no longer get the (human) traffic that they get today. And here is where XR technology fits in.
Instead of the passive use of a “browser” to read a New York Times article, you will actively be presented the contents you’re interested in by your LLM — probably displayed as a multimedia AR experience at your demand. The connection between AI and XR is not as obvious as maybe it should be. It seems to me that the two will feed on each other so that both are trillion dollar industries by 2030. (Again, baring the United States collapsing into civil war / revolution because of fucking ding-dong Trump.)
The thing about it is, all of this could happen really, really fast. Within just a few months, content on the Web could collapse into a Singularity with little or no direct human interaction with it. An entire genre of media will no longer be relevant at all.
Even all the microblogging services that have popped up might no longer needed because the real-time news element of the services will be replaced with you having a really interesting, personal conversation with your digital personal assistant.
Or, at the very least, what you might previously get via Twitter or Bluesky, you will see via a XR display that you wear most of the time.
Besides the obvious historical and political obstacles to this happening, there might be some human resistance to what seems to make total sense today. As such, maybe it’s not 2030 that no one reads The New York Times website anymore, but, say, 2033 or later.
But it’s coming. I just don’t see how the Web continues to exist in its present form.