The Step of a Tipping Point
It’s the end of a week, when among all top 100 announcements at Google’s biggest event for the year, digital wellbeing strategy is leading the trend.
The “The Semantic Connections and The Future” conversation couldn’t be more timely! It comes to map the next step in a business world where each plan and it’s digital elements are must have.
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Ontotext Teodora Petkova David Amerland
Originally shared by Ontotext
Semantic Connections and the Future
It’s been a great two months of #semtechtalks where Teodora Petkova talked to nine (yes, like the number of Muses) wonderful people about semantic technologies and the future. The entire series can be found at https://goo.gl/FEFePE and will also be soon published on our blog at https://ontotext.com/blog/.
Today, we are honored to have David Amerland , as the pearl in this crown of insights. Read more about David below and prepare to dive in some really sharp thinking and linking!
David Amerland is a writer, speaker and analyst, advising big companies on semantic search, social media, web trends, technology. He is the author of several books among the most popular of which are Google Semantic Search and The Social Media Mind. He chronicles his quest to the brand new semantic world in a SEO Advice section on his website http://davidamerland.com and also writes for Forbes, Social Media Today and several other sites and magazines.
Somewhere between all that David indefatigably fosters meaningful dialogues on Google+ about the rapid development of semantic search and the inevitable disruption of traditional business and life models. Recently, in addition to charting the connections between data mining, search, social media, marketing, branding and the human factor, David is writing about the neuroscience behind understanding our environment and making better decisions about it (see The Sniper Mind: https://thesnipermind.com/)
How will AI make us more human?
AI is doing for our brain power and our capabilities of analysis now what dumb machines did in the past for our muscle power. It is allowing us to mentally do more than ever, faster than at any other time in history. When we got past our physical limitations with dumb machines we had to then decide not on what we can do (because technically we could do almost anything) but how to best do it so that it takes into account human intent and human future. Computers, for a while made us forget that we were people. We looked at their output and we saw code and in the process we automated replies, emails, marketing and branding. We are now at the more rarefied stage where, once again, everything we do through smart machines, in order to work, needs to strike a chord with people. When it is no longer a massive challenge to design a smart machine we focus on the thing that really matters: how what that machine does for us is perceived by people who are then expected to engage with it. This is why context and intent are now key to search, marketing and branding as well as pretty much every online and offline relationship we care to develop.
Why is it so hard for us to take AI as yet another tool?
There is an understandable fascination (and maybe even a sense of pride) in our constructs. We experienced the same relationship curve with them in the Industrial Revolution before industrial management and industrial psychology kicked in and taught us that we cannot treat people like cogs in a machine and hope to get meaningful work out of them. It is the same with AI now. I encounter business that engage in data mining and Big Data analysis and their source code is dirty because they have given zero thought to context and intent so they capture everything from everywhere and then hope to find meaningful patterns that will help them humanize their business by personalizing the business/customer touch points. It ain’t gonna happen. AI fascinates as the “new shiny” plus there is also a sense of wonderment as we fancy that in its workings we glimpse parts of our innermost selves. We don’t, yet. But we do have really smart machines who will only get smarter. It makes it imperative we focus on ways and means to bring our humanity to the surface in all our activities and make that the ‘secret sauce’ of our success.
In your latest book The Sniper Mind you are writing about the workings of the mind and how we can use our minds as our best tool, provided we reach a deep understanding of who we are. In that context, how do you think semantic technologies help us sharpen our perception of ourselves and deepen our understanding of our surroundings?
Semantic search and every technology associated with it revolves around concepts of entity, identity, authority, expertise and trust. We cannot hope to understand the world we live in if we lack the language to describe it and the means to then make those descriptions universal. Reality, right now, challenges us. Veracity is a huge issue. Having reduced the cost of producing content to near zero we have uncoupled the ability to produce content from verticals that were authoritative because they were expensive to set up. That is not necessarily a bad thing as we have freed ourselves from the gatekeepers of the 20th century who decided just what kind of information was safe for us to consume. But we have not yet put in place any means of identifying what’s real and what isn’t and what may be in between. This is our current, very real, challenge, everywhere.
Augment or Annihilate – what is the truth between those two polarities when it comes to machine learning?
Machine learning is a really smart algorithmic approach to applying tightly bound artificial intelligence (what we would call weak AI or bound AI) to deep problems. This is always a plus, I never see it as a minus and those who do fail to fundamentally understand machine learning. As always the use we put our augmented capabilities to has to be guided by ethics. It cannot be “anything goes” otherwise we end up in a dystopian world run by companies like Cambridge Analytica where there will be some short-term winners and everyone will lose in the end.
When did you first met the semantic web?
I first encountered the idea of the semantic web from Tim Berners-Lee writings on the subject in 2004, when I was asked at a conference whether I thought SEO would simply die because of it. The original idea required webmasters to voluntarily and honesty mark-up web pages for the good of everyone. We know enough of human economic behavior to know that this just does not happen.
And last, you once shared “When I surf the web I am in a mental space that totally isolates me from my surroundings. At the very back of my mind I imagine that I am in space, in a spaceship and search is my umbilical cord with the world” From that perspective what do you see ahead of us, brought by the increasingly semantic Web?
Time, distance and national borders disappear. We are already at a stage where we pick people who form our immediate tribe and we connect with them because we value their thoughts, ideas and perspective. We care about them. Their lives, their hopes. What happens to them on a day-to-day basis. It’s a small, human thing that is deeply disruptive and it is unlikely to change or slow down. As we map more and more of our world through a clearer understanding of the interconnectedness that binds us we shall have the very real challenge of learning to function remotely with many people to achieve specific goals. We shall have to find ways to get on with people who culturally and nationally may be antithetical to us. Without forgetting past history we shall need to find the will and the courage to write our own and make it different. Utopian as all this may sound it is also inevitable. Increased automation, always-on connections and the ever more deeply embedded web (which is slowly becoming the world through initiatives such as the IoT) will reach a tipping point and we shall have to intentionally and with full awareness decide what our next evolutionary step needs to be.
Thank you, David for your valuable perspectives!
If you liked the interview, check out our collection Semantic Technology Talks at https://goo.gl/FEFePE for more of the same 🙂