RankBrain and the Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to be attacked by lucid, malicious robots anytime in the near future (hopefully).  We aren’t going to be controlled and pushed to extinction by mechanical sentient beings controlled by a central hub called “SkyNet”.  However, we are going to have a big part of our day controlled by artifical intelligence, at least now that Google has released “RankBrain”, the machine learning engine that is now powering their search results.

What is AI and Machine Learning?

Machine learning is what it’s name suggests, a machine (in this case computer software) that takes in information and makes decisions.  It can then use those decisions to further process decisions, as it incorporates it into it’s inner workings (similar to how humans learn things progressively, starting with the simple and building to the more complex).

Artificial Intelligence comes in a few different forms (supervised and unsupervised are the two largest groups), but let’s not get bogged down in the technical stuff here.  The simple fact of the matter is that Google is now letting a machine decided what search results are good, based upon what they previously have determined to be good (like showing a kid a good drawing, and then showing them 10 other drawing and having them pick which one is also “good”).

To be fair, this isn’t a new development, it’s just a new development at Google.  Their VP of Search, Amit Singhal, had always been philosophically opposed to machine learning, but recently that has changed and now they have implemented RankBrain.  However, AI has been part of marketing campaigns and other technical endeavors for years.  There is the famous story of Target predicting that a young woman was pregnant (and sending her coupons for baby clothes) before she had even told her father (and this drew an angry response from the father, which is why it made the news).

All Target was doing in that case was analyzing her spending habits and comparing it with those of other customers.  They could easily see that other customers with her spending habits went ahead and purchased baby clothes in the proceeding months.  They then strategically sent out coupons so as to encourage the customer to shop at Target.  It’s smart.

So that’s what Google is doing, basically feeding into the system a bunch of search results that they know are good ones (whatever that means) and letting the “brain” decide which search results look just as good.

What Does This Mean For Webmasters

The short answer is: Not much.  We asked around and got some feedback from Internet Marketers, one such response was from Steve who runs the best seo company in Bournemouth (I checked, it’s true) and he gave us a perfect quote:

“SEOs cannot know how RankBrain will turn out.  By definition, Google doesn’t even know how it’s going to turn out, because a computer program is going off to play on it’s own.  Only time will tell, but we should be prepared to react when that time comes”.

He’s right, there is no way to really know how the machine learning will start processing results pages.  It could get very, very weird.


Top Tips For Servicing Your Own PC

Whether you’re a student, a gamer, teacher, whatever: it doesn’t matter.  If you use your computer on a daily basis, which most people do, you should be proactive with keeping your computer problem free instead of being passive and waiting for a problem to creep up that may cost you hundreds of dollars, time, and lost work!


There are definitely some things you can do on your own that can help your computer live a longer life and run efficiently:

  • Run Real Time Virus Protection Program! All the time that you spend on the internet? Well, guess what? You can infect your computer any time while surfing online. There are free, effective programs like the Avast Anti-Virus that you can register and use–yes, for free.
  • Uninstall Programs You Don’t Need! There is a good reason for this. Unnecessary programs may be taking up resources (on your hard drive and memory) and are probably slowing down your computer. At first, it may not seem like much but you should make routine of this at least once or twice a year. So many people don’t! Just imagine how many useless programs one can gather with so much out there. For some people, this can add up to quite a lot.
  • Defragment Your Hard Drive! So, what does it mean to defragment your hard drive ? The more you use your computer, the more the resources or files on your computer can become “fragmented”. Overtime, new files are written on your hard drive and old ones are deleted. When this happens, there are “gaps” in your hard drive in the way the files are left. Fragments of data are everywhere now, hence “fragmented”. To better organize the files on your drive, you can “defrag” your hard drive. It’s relatively easy to do and all it requires is a little bit of time and patience (you have to leave your computer alone during this process!) On your windows computer, you can search for the “disk defragmenter” program and just… run it. Easy as pie!
  • Make SURE Your Programs Are Updated! Again, this sounds basic but makes a huge difference. With so many applications and programs being released, there are a lot that are updated on the regular. A lot of programs can contain bugs that get sorted out through updates. This is typical of most programs. If you don’t update them, they can lead to vulnerabilities on your computer and open it up to harm, potentially. Always update your programs as soon as they are released and you are notified!

If it’s already too late and you can handle an issue, then contact computer repairs Brisbane wide. They have been quick, timely, and are well established in Brisbane, all over.


Technical and Practical Implications of Industrial Safety

Computer technicians and network engineers have to worry about technical problems when it comes to safety, like information security and proper authentication, disaster recovery and repair, or hardware failures.  These are all common and worthwhile concerns on the scale of a computer network or information system, but when you switch over to the scale of massive industrial undertaking, the concerns become much more pronounced.  Actual physical danger to workers and the technicians themselves is a very real threat, so we no longer are dealing with peoples’ livelihoods, we are dealing with peoples lives.

FukoShima and the Need for Industrial Safety

Radioactive Nuclear Meltdown at Fukushima, Japan
The Meltdown at Fukushima. Radiation levels in the area are still at dangerous levels.

In 2011 the Nuclear Power Plant in Fukoshima, Japan had a severe meltdown following a tsunami that damaged its systems.  While the Japanese officials tried to downplay the extent of the damage, it is believed to still be affecting that area of Japan as well as the entire section of Pacific Ocean and circulates near it.  High radiation levels were seen as far away as California beaches, as well as in Tuna caught in the pacific.  The full extent of the damage cannot be known for certain but it is clear it will take years for it to clear up.

This speaks to the massive scale of industrial safety, it can affect our ecosystem as well as the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.  While computer security experts need to worry about peoples bank accounts, industrial safety experts need to worry about peoples actual lives.  It’s for this reason that industrial safety products as well as proper planning and disaster preparedness have become top of mind for many officials, activists and regular citizens.

Recall the scare at 3-mile island, which threatened to affect nearly 20 million people in the greater NY area.  Thankfully we did not see a full meltdown, but the possibility was very real, prompting many citizens to call for greater oversight of the facility.

Full Circle – Cyber Safety Meets Industrial Safety

We’ve spoke about how cyber safety, such as computer network security, can pail in comparison with industrial safety at the largest scales.  This is however a bit of a falsity, because in today’s interconnected world, our industrial systems are increasingly connected via the Internet and other computer networks, making them prime targets for hackers and other cyber criminals.

This is even true at the scale of international espionage.  It was reported that Iran’s nuclear facilities were hacked by international hackers in order to disable and destroy equipment that had the potential for creating nuclear weapons.  While most people would think this is probably a good thing, the potential for adverse affects of this, should it be undertaken by the wrong people, is tremendous.

Take for example, electrical grids in countries throughout the world.  These grids were built nearly 100 years ago and still have essentially the same infrastructure.  A cyber-criminal with evil intentions could potential wreak havoc on the entire system, causing massive damage.  So both practical safety concerns and cyber-safety concerns are a real priority in today’s day and age.