Bots battle for online data

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The Future. To power AI systems, firms are on a mission to vacuum as much data as possible… and many media and news companies are not happy about it. While several lawsuits make their way through the courts, some are turning to security bots that can fight these AI-scraping bots. While many publishers are opting to simply license their content to AI firms, the software battle could damage the development of AI image and video generation tools.

Information trenches
The robot war is already happening behind the scenes of your internet browser.

  • For decades, companies respected when a website had the code “robots.txt” in its code, which was like an unofficial “No Trespassing” sign for scraping its content.
  • But AI firms, whose systems are built on collecting vast amounts of data, have been ignoring that code and scraping everything.
  • And those firms aren’t even hiding the flagrant scraping (even of copyrighted material) — Microsoft AI CEO Mustafa Suleyman has called anything on the open internet “freeware,” and anyone can “copy it, recreate with it, [and] reproduce with it.”

So, some companies are fighting back with their own AI. Software security firm Cloudflare, which one in five websites use, debuted a tool that identifies and stops bots from harvesting site data.

This bot battle isn’t siloed to the world of digital information. It’s also happening in social media moderation, cybersecurity defense, and finance. Oh, and actual war.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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