As AI-powered technology is rapidly evolving to exponentially extend human capabilities, WordPress contributors do not want the platform to get left behind. AI-powered website creation could even become a threat to its existence, more than a competing CMS, if WordPress doesn’t ensure the platform is easily pluggable for AI-powered extensions. A new discussion on the Core developer’s blog asks what WordPress can do to better enable AI innovation.
“WordPress Core always seeks to provide a stable foundation for folks to build upon directly and extend as they see fit,” Automattic-sponsored core contributor Anne McCarthy said. “Even if a new technology is not actually included in Core, the project aims to enable innovation and progress through extension (plugins, themes, etc.) wherever possible and sensible.”
McCarthy shared a video of what it might look like to have AI integrated into Gutenberg’s experimental command center to build out pages based on AI-suggested designs. She asked three questions of contributors:
- How would you want to see Core updated so it can be extended in ways accessible to AI technologies?
- For those building, or trying to build, with AI today, how does Core currently enable or hinder this effort?
- Are there any concerns that you think the community should be aware of as this space is explored?
WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg is optimistic about the prospect of further integrating AI into open source development.
Mullenweg also encouraged WordPress professionals to consider how AI and open source can work together.
“Open source and AI are the two mega-trends of the next 30 years,” he said. “They complement each other, and you should think deeply about how. ChatGPT can’t read Shopify’s code.”
StellarWP-sponsored contributor Matt Cromwell commented on the latest core discussion, suggesting that AI innovation is better left to plugin developers.
“All AI options currently require integration with a 3rd party system, some sort of pricing and authentication, this feels to me to clearly be plugin territory,” Cromwell said.
“The other concern here is that the current Core roadmap is very full. At what cost would the project chase an AI integration? At the expense of multi-editing collaboration features? At the expense of multi-lingual features? I find it hard to imagine pursuing the current roadmap with excellence and stability AND adding a huge AI integration as well.”
Bluehost-sponsored contributor Jonathan Desrosiers, one of the reviewers of the post, clarified that the intention was to “fuel discussion around what AI looks like in the WordPress ecosystem and how that may be blocked currently.”
“As you said, the roadmap is definitely full and adding new things should not be done unless there are extremely compelling reasons,” Desrosiers said. “But, if there are small “paper cut” changes that can be made in Core (new filter or action hooks, etc.) to allow plugins to better experiment and flesh out AI integrations in the WordPress world, I think that we certainly should consider these.”
Cromwell suggested WordPress could add a settings panel for integrating various API’s, such as payment gateways and OpenAI API keys, to prevent conflicts and streamline API usage across multiple plugins.
Rob Glidden proposed that contributors consider the possibility of having AI chatbots as a user type for the future collaboration workflow inside WordPress:
I would suggest looking at AI chatbots as (“just another”) user type in the upcoming Phase 3 of collaboration/workflow.
I for one want an AI chatbot on my multiuser collaboration team in a phase 3 WordPress.
In the multiuser collaborative workflows already described in “Phase 3 Collaboration” it seems like basically the same infrastructure should work for both human users and AI “users”.
Indeed, it is not a huge stretch in reading that document to think of “users”, “collaborators”, and “creators” as also being bot-ish users, assigned and performing tasks within a workflow.
CodeWP-sponsored contributor James LePage echoed Cromwell’s concerns that focusing too much on integrating AI might make WordPress less competitive on the features that have already been identified for Gutenberg’s Phase 3 roadmap:
As some others said here, as a WP user, I’d much prefer a really strong focus on the existing Phase 3 roadmap items as I think it would make our CMS a lot more valuable and competitive to other tools out there, as opposed to integrating AI somehow.
One other thing is that there aren’t really any standards here. There are large players, but they keep changing the way their AI works, and probably will continue to do so. We’d be trying to hit a moving target.
As much as WordPress contributors are spread thin across the project’s current Gutenberg roadmap of goals and improvements, you don’t get to choose when new technology is bearing down on your industry, forcing you to act or become obsolete. The WordPress community has built a robust plugin ecosystem, but leaving it all to third-party integrations may not be enough to keep the software relevant in the coming years. Ensuring that WordPress is compatible with the future of AI-powered innovation is critical if contributors want the platform to continue to be the best CMS and website builder available on the web.