Wired: ‘Perplexity Is a Bullshit Machine’

Dhruv Mehrotra and Tim Marchman, reporting for Wired (News+ link):

A Wired analysis and one carried out by developer Robb Knight suggest that Perplexity is able to achieve this partly through apparently ignoring a widely accepted web standard known as the Robots Exclusion Protocol to surreptitiously scrape areas of websites that operators do not want accessed by bots, despite claiming that it won’t. Wired observed a machine tied to Perplexity — more specifically, one on an Amazon server and almost certainly operated by Perplexity — doing this on wired.com and across other Condé Nast publications.

The Wired analysis also demonstrates that despite claims that Perplexity’s tools provide “instant, reliable answers to any question with complete sources and citations included,” doing away with the need to “click on different links,” its chatbot, which is capable of accurately summarizing journalistic work with appropriate credit, is also prone to bullshitting, in the technical sense of the word.

This paints Perplexity as, effectively, an IP theft engine, and its CEO, Aravind Srinivas, as a degenerate liar. None of this is an oversight or just playing fast and loose. It’s a scheme to deliberately circumvent the plain intention of website owners not to have Perplexity index their sites. Liars and thieves. Utterly shameless.

Wednesday, 19 June 2024