How Google's sweeping shift to AI-powered search results could reshape internet

Google has announced sweeping changes to its services as the AI arms race continues.

But the changes they're making could reshape the entire online economy.

The front page of the internet is changing.

"Anybody who's got an online representation - a very high percentage - the majority of the visits to their website come from Google. So this is a real game-changer," Gorilla Tech CEO Paul Spain told Newshub.

"This is the sort of thing that could close down a lot of businesses in the years ahead."

Google has announced a pivot to AI-generated search results, first showing AI summaries ahead of human-made websites - a seemingly minor change with massive ramifications.

"If you use the internet at all? This is going to impact your life," said Allyn Robins, AI lead at the Brainbox Institute.

"If you occasionally Google the answers to questions, this is going to influence whether or not you can trust the answers to those questions.

"If you ever put stuff online, this is going to affect how many people are likely to see it and whether they'll think that it's something that you, a human made, or whether they'll just miss it in a giant sea of AI-generated garbage."

And that sea of garbage is growing. AI spam created, commented on, and shared entirely by bots is already infesting online platforms. One study estimated by 2026 that 90 percent of online content could be AI-generated, turning the web into an endless echo chamber of AIs in conversation.

And the news organisations sorting fact from fiction may be most impacted.

"Media has already been staring down various kinds of what have been called extinction-level events," The Spinoff founder Duncan Greive told Newshub.

"It's got the potential to be a really, difficult, difficult situation."

But there's some hope, provided Silicon Valley pays for the content their AI is trained on.

"There is a world actually where media might get less search traffic but actually be compensated better for the value it brings to these other large businesses," Greive said.

In the meantime, experts say Google should tread carefully with these changes.

"One of Google's slogans used to be 'don't be evil'. I think they need to remember this. They need to put this up in a massive font at the headquarters, right in front of all their AI team," Spain said.

Whether the tech titan heeds its own advice will change the internet as we know it.