From the time of its (seeming) introduction to the public at large, around November of 2022, to late 2023, the growth and adoption rate has been nothing short of explosive. It features the fastest adoption rate of any new technology ever, by a broad margin. To give a reference, the adoption rate for AI image and text generation, real-world uses, in just 12 months is comparable to all of that of the another disruptive technology, the World Wide Web, taking place between 1995 and 2001 (6 years), and smartphones between 2009 and 2013 (3 years)*. It seems like we are seeing a halving approximately every 10-15 years.
Yes, the current state of affairs is pretty ugly. But so was a Tripod or Geocities webpage in 1995:
Side note, If you like that, be sure to check out the Geocities Archive for more fun snapshots of the mid 90's.
Back to my original point. When something new and shiny comes along, everyone wants to play around with it according to their own ideas of how to make it work for them, but it's not until the technology (and our mindset) matures a little, and an infrastructure is built. In this case, HTML and web servers, and search came a long way before the World Wide Web was as usable as it was even in 2001. Right now it seems that people think, for example, a good use of generative AI is making photos of Tom Hanks on acid in Walmart.
Or replacing every business website with AI generated blurbs, featuring keywords they want to own in Google SERP. Sure, the internet is going to be ugly, or even debateably, broken for a while. But we haven't yet started to see a systemic infrastructure that bolsters the real power of this technology, and brings it to the users.
Ultimately, will it be a great thing for humankind? Obviously, that is yet to be seen. But I am hopeful and excited, if for nothing else than having a front-row seat.
*Summary based on statistics obtained from PEW research and my own conclusions which admittedly may have been influenced or skewed by my personal experience