Strange IndiaStrange India

I don’t need to tell you that Amazon’s search results keep getting worse and worse—every major publication on Earth already has. Last week, Amazon announced plans to pour AI-powered jet fuel on that particular garbage fire.

Amazon, in my experience, is full of products with confusing descriptions that lack complete specifications. Now the website AlternativeTo is reporting that Amazon recently added a tool for vendors that allows them to use AI to create such product listings. Specifically, any vendor hoping to sell a product to Amazon can simply provide a link to a product page elsewhere on the web—an AI system will scan the page and fill in the product page for the vendor. To quote Amazon’s press release:

This will further enhance and streamline the process of creating product listings, saving our selling partners more time and effort while developing listings for Amazon’s store that appeal to customers and help drive sales.

If you’ve ever browsed the top results of an Amazon search and thought, “Wow, I sure wish the company selling this put less effort into these product descriptions,” then I suppose you should be excited about this. Everyone else, however, should expect even more of that uncanny feeling while browsing Amazon. You know the one: that you’re a human attempting to navigate a system that’s optimized by and for bots.

To be clear: I don’t doubt that this auto-population might be useful for a few legitimate companies. Data entry is annoying and there are probably many cases where a tool like this could make life a little simpler for people, provided they go back and edit things to ensure accuracy. Good actors will probably benefit a little. Having said that, I can’t help but imagine that bad actors will benefit even more. It’s going to be extremely useful for spammy companies to upload even more of the low-effort junk that already clutters Amazon search results.

What’s a would-be shopper to do? We’ve talked a bit about how to get better Amazon search results, and you could also use another search service altogether to search Amazon. Such skills, and tools, are only going to become more essential as AI fills more and more of the web with “content.” Good luck out there.

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