Search Engine Optimization — 09 June 2019

The practice of implementing automated programs and features in new websites is becoming more and more common, and it’s anyone’s guess how far they will advance in the next decade. But most people seem to be guessing that they’ll advance even further than most of us can imagine. So how much automation is ideal in a business where we’re all trying to rank our websites as high as possible in Google’s cherished search engine?

It’s a delicate balance.

You’ve all heard the news stories: new artificial intelligence writes poetry. New algorithm writes the next Harry Potter. AI saves lives. The list goes on and on. How fast are we approaching the point at which artificial intelligence can speak better, see better, write better, think better, and create better than the vast majority of humans? And when we reach that point, should we accept it? Or should we fight to keep humans a part of the creative process?

We need to approach these possibilities with an endless supply of care. Try this experiment: log onto YouTube and queue up the least politically volatile video you can find. When the video finishes running, let the automated recommendation system play the next video. Keep doing this until you notice the trend. In the past, YouTube would continue to provide related content, but the content would become progressively more controversial in order to grab viewers.

When these trends in automated viewing were revealed, YouTube promised to adjust algorithms to reduce the danger to viewers who are easily swayed toward certain extreme viewpoints by these videos. What effect would that have on the world, after all?

No one wants to become stuck in the same situation. Who would?

Not only is it bad for people, but it’s also bad for business.

This is one of the biggest reasons why businesses should fight to keep the human element a part of their day-to-day functions for as long as possible, even if the rising tide of automation makes it feel like a lesson in futility.

Then again, it’s worth asking another question: how will search engine optimization work for humans if much of the content is produced by computers? Will Google learn to determine one from the other? Would Google side with humans if it could? Will content produced via algorithm rule the web? The answers to these questions don’t come easy, because the future of computer automation is nearly impossible to predict.

Automation can be useful in other ways. Amazon’s automated drones might one day deliver packages, reducing the burden in a world where shipping items to customers faster is profoundly important. One might even imagine a day when no one needs to work at all.

It’s difficult to imagine a world in which computers and machines are capable of taking over all the world’s job-related tasks, and not everyone is in agreement on whether or not it will happen at all. Certainly no one knows when it might, if it does. The point is this: businesses need to do all the appropriate research now, because treading carefully will no longer be an option when computers can do it better than we can.

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Dolores Obrien

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