Will AI Finally Destroy the Advertising-Based Business Model of the Internet?

When AI agents replace search engines, will they give us "sponsored content" or the best answer to our queries?


  • Jim Ryan Sales Growth Strategies LLC, Harvard Innovation Lab Author


AI Agents, AI Search, Search Engines, SEO, e-commerce, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Google Bard, Google Gemini, OpenAI, ChatGPT, LLM, Large Language Models


In the 1990s, the Internet promised to unite the world and put all of the accumulated knowledge of humanity at anyone’s fingertips, instantly.

So why is the Internet today a cesspool of misinformation, scams, vitriol, “sponsored results,” and time-wasting, deceptive “dark patterns?”

That’s easy, you may be thinking. “Because people don’t want to pay for anything.” As the saying goes, if you don’t want to pay for the product, you become the product. Since people are so cheap, advertising was the only viable business model to fund the services people wanted. As a result, web services are designed not to provide the highest quality service and experience to the user, they are designed to keep the user using the service as long as possible so that they can see as many ads as possible. They are designed to trick users into clicking on sponsored links so that the hosting site can earn advertising dollars. They are designed not to give us the best results, but to give us the sponsored results. The inevitable outcome has been search engines whose top search results are all sponsored, shopping sites whose search feature returns sponsored product results rather than the best product to meet your needs, and social media sites that stoke anger and outrage since that keeps people on the site the longest. The wasting of our time, the degradation of our political discourse, and the potential destruction of our democratic societies are just collateral damage.

Can AI lead us out of this wasteland and into a paradise where the user and the customer are one in the same, and search services compete to be the most efficient, accurate, and relevant?

Author Biography

  • Jim Ryan, Sales Growth Strategies LLC, Harvard Innovation Lab

    Jim Ryan is Founder and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Business and Artificial Intelligence. He is an experienced global sales leader who has built sales teams and revenue for seven growth-stage technology startups, leading to 5 acquisitions and 2 IPOs. In October 2018 he sold his seventh startup, Medstro, and has since led sales for Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence startups.

    Mr. Ryan spent 15 years in Asia building and managing international sales teams for startups, then returned to the US to take up global sales and CEO roles at pre-Series-A startups.

    Mr. Ryan has a Bachelor's degree from Harvard University, where he studied computer science and Japanese literature, and a Master's degree from Osaka University, where he studied behavioral linguistics.

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