Reddit doesn’t seem to be too worried about the AI-powered conversational chatbots like the ones Google and Microsoft revealed this week, based on a statement the company shared with The Verge. Shifting from traditional search to ChatGPT-like bots could erase the strategy of appending “reddit” to your searches to find human-sourced information instead of SEO-optimized garbage.
But Reddit believes the chatbots won’t replace actual human connection.
“AI chatbot technologies are still new and something we’re exploring and keeping our eyes on,” said Reddit spokesperson Nick Singer. “Though, there will always be a need for genuine community and human connection, which can be aided by tools like this. We see chatbots being used in fun and innovative ways to complement community and human connection — not replace it.”
Conversational AI tools like ChatGPT have exploded in popularity because they can be quite fun to talk to. And by integrating them heavily with search, Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s new Bing could make search more enjoyable than before. But there are a lot of problems with AI-assisted search, including the potential to report inaccuracies as fact, as Bard did in official Google marketing materials.
One of the reasons people often trust Reddit, on the other hand, is that users will generally upvote the good stuff and downvote the bad stuff. If you give bad information or blatantly lie, your comment may not make it to the top of a thread. Reddit isn’t immune to misinformation, but generally, I feel I can trust highly upvoted comments in big communities more than a Google result from a site I may not recognize. You can also further scrutinize information on Reddit by looking at people’s post histories and asking them questions; with a chatbot, you have to hope it’s giving you good citations.
I also want to point out that Reddit’s statement says it’s exploring AI chatbot technologies, too, so perhaps we’ll soon be talking with Reddit to find stuff on Reddit.