Issue #48: Search Engines, Social Media, and Stages of (AI) Grief

“Biggest Losers of AI Boom Are Knowledge Workers, McKinsey Says.” That’s a recent headline from Bloomberg — and it’s indicative of a flurry of doomsday articles that came out after McKinsey Digital released an in-depth report about generative AI last month. Despite the report’s focus on the immense economic and business opportunities AI presents us, its coverage has latched onto a single takeaway: how generative AI will increasingly disrupt knowledge work and could potentially replace knowledge workers themselves (that is, people like many of us). And while we may or may not be inching closer to The Singularity, there’s a more imminent shift for professionals to monitor.

And that’s where the search engine comes in. Since its invention 30-odd years ago, the search engine has been the central organizing principle of the internet. In a matter of months, AI is poised to render it irrelevant — or, at least, to reshape how it impacts our work. Short-lived are the days of typing a query into a search bar and being presented with a list of webpages that (hopefully) contain the information we’re looking for. Today, tools like Microsoft Bing and Google Bard can generate and summarize that information for us in seconds. This paradigm shift poses existential questions for businesses: What role will websites play in a world where users rarely leave their home page? How will organizations optimize their messaging to be indexed by AI engines? How will businesses remain discoverable, relevant, and engaging?

These disruptions are still unfolding, and like all disruptions, with them will come enormous opportunities to find competitive advantages in a rapidly evolving landscape. Because despite all that’s changing, the one constant will be the need to create content that connects people — with a little help from machines — to the information, inspiration, and stories that they’re hungry for.

To learn more about how AI is disrupting search — and with it the backbone of the modern internet, check out our latest news piece.

Every month, we publish a fresh issue of Provocations, a digest that captures our perspectives on the world around us as well as big — and little — ideas to provoke the way creatives, strategists, and marketers make their moves. Sign up below to receive Provocations in your inbox using the “Stay in the Know” form. 

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