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Reddit's API Protest: A Sign of AI's Small Consequences?

June 15, 2023By Kyle Steinberg

Topics: Blogging, Industry News, Artificial Intelligence

We've all heard the scary scenarios of AI replacing the workforce or running out of control. While still in the realm of possibility, though unlikely, highlights the fact we are focusing on the big picture worst case scenario. This means the "small" consequences are going right over our heads. In this case the "silencing" by the Reddit community is a way to highlight the "small" consequences that Generative AI is having.

 What Is the Reddit Strike About?

For those of you that don't use Reddit, first off use it, secondly it can be boiled down to a social media platform were people get in groups based on anything and share ideas, information, stories, etc. Reddit tends to be more of a Millennial-centric audience but is home to vast amount of knowledge. Because of this, Reddit's "traffic" has massively increased causing the need for more servers, personal, etc.

To help cover these costs Reddit will now be charging third parties that use Reddit's API $0.24 for every 1,000 calls to the API. Many third parties app developers will either become paid apps to account for these costs or go out of business or at the least mass job cuts. Reddit blames Generative AI as the cause while most certainly not the only reason why their is a lot of truth in it as well.

How is Generative AI to Blame for Reddit's API Move?

The answer is simply, Money. Their is a potential for this to be a huge gold mine for Reddit if they go through with it and OpenAI/Google wont mind paying. Like I said earlier Reddit despite what some of you may have heard is an incredible resource center for more than just ideas. They are genuine human interactions in worded format. 

What makes Reddit so valuable to Google and OpenAI is it becomes a one stop shop for logic building with certain Reddit threads, subreddits, etc. and personality/emotional builder as well. The way to make these AI's better is by training and showing repeated examples of human interaction. Reddit also conveniently organizes every last bit of this information into subreddits and threads.

Why not Just Have the AI's Scan the Website itself? It Does That Now?

True, if you have ChatGPT-4 Plus you have the ability to have Generative AI actively scan the web real time. The major flaw currently is the amount of processing power and data being combed through is incredible. This means lots of processing power which means lots of hardware, power you get where I'm going with this. Well OpenAI and Google don't have the infrastructure in place yet to let the AI's run wild for all to use (including themselves). 

As I said in the previous section it takes a lot of testing and modifications to train these AI's. With the amount of testing "power" needed it delays the training cycles. So they would use the Reddit API combined with their own API instead which provides it direct access into all of their data for no fee. Reddit has realized this and this way their way to cut it off without getting "compensated". The unintended part is all the third party API's using it for more legitimate purposes were caught in the cross-fire. 

Will Reddit Reverse Course on Their API Decision Based on the Mass Community Protest?

Hate to be a downer but it won't happen, for now at least. Their is far to much money to be made here by Reddit. with the current development of AI's. These multi-billion dollar tech companies will take any advantage they can over one another to come out on top. Reddit is already counting the millions that will be coming from this new battleground. 

How Does This Impact You?

Well it depends. Some of you may never notice. The majority of us however have already felt this or you will soon. This will effect some of use directly or some of us indirectly at the least. A lot of industries actually communicate on Reddit, people share ideas, thoughts, real-time trends, etc. So many industries rely on this information to make decisions about who, what, when, where, how, why. All of these industries use at least one third party app if not more. 

That means either the apps charge them and price gets passed down the line to the consumer or the apps close and negative ripples move down the line revenue drops, cost cuts (means jobs usually). One way or another one of the scenarios is going to happen most likely the price increases. Even if you don't work directly or secondarily with anything Reddit API related doesn't mean it wont effect you either.

Reddit's API is a complex web that connects to so many businesses, apps, and those businesses, apps connect to other things, etc. The cycle goes on and no matter where you are in the line it hits you at some point. The further down the line as well the more expensive as the $0.000001 cent at the start now becomes $0.01. Doesn't sound like much but that single instance typically happens hundred or thousands of time per day. Everything costs more............yay.


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