"While there are 54 recognized countries in Africa, none of them begin with the letter "K", Google search asserts. "The closest is Kenya, which starts with a "K" sound, but is actually spelled with a "K" sound. It's always interesting to learn new trivia facts like this."
This drivel was reportedly the top, prominently quoted result for the search term "African country that starts with K" and represents an inhuman centipede: AI-generated SEO-optimized content rising to the top and ending up as the automated answers Google offers to questions.
"Google was rotting from the inside out before AI came around but it's going to get 10 times worse," wrote Christopher Ingraham in a tweet that now has millions of page views. "'It's always interesting to learn new trivia facts like this!' is something Linda Yaccarino would tweet"
It turns out the source, "Emergent Mind", was itself intended to be an example of how AI can be made to hallucinate—a project abandoned, but whose output was ingested by Google and is now reproduced by it.
"The solution to this can't be hoping individual site owners take down pages that Google is interpreting incorrectly," writes creator Matt Mazur on Twitter.
There needs to be some fast, accessible way to access the Internet at it was in 2016 or so, at the cusp of the enshittifiation event horizon. However bad it was, at least it wasn't this. Someone please give the Internet Archive a lot of money.