Perplexity CEO Aravind Srinivas Responds

Mark Sullivan, Fast Company:

[Perplexity CEO Aravind] Srinivas said the mysterious web crawler that Wired identified was not owned by Perplexity, but by a third-party provider of web crawling and indexing services.

Srinivas wants the warm glow of innovation without the cold truth of responsibility.

Srinivas would not say the name of the third-party provider, citing a Nondisclosure Agreement.

The way Perplexity works is dependent on favourable relationships with these providers, so Srinivas cannot throw them under the bus by name. He can, however, scatter blame all around.

Asked if Perplexity immediately called the third-parter crawler to tell them to stop crawling Wired content, Srinivas was non-committal. “It’s complicated,” he said.

Srinivas has not.

Srinivas also noted that the Robot Exclusion Protocol, which was first proposed in 1994, is “not a legal framework.”

Srinivas is creating a clear difference between laws and principles because the legal implications are so far undecided, but it sure looks unethical that its service ignores the requests of publishers — no matter whether that is through first- or third-party means.

He suggested that the emergence of AI requires a new kind of working relationship between content creators, or publishers, and sites like his.

On this, Srinivas and I agree. But it seems that, until new policies are in place, Perplexity will keep pillaging the web.