Ai is such a broad and rapidly evolving subject at the moment and that’s what makes it all the more interesting when you link its growth and development to online and digital reputation management. First of all though it’s important to briefly look at Ai’s timeline and where we are today before assessing the impact in the future.

A Recent History of Ai

In 1956 John McCarthy was the first person to actually coin the phrase at an academic conference, but in truth the subject has been around for many centuries, albeit discussed under different guises and contexts. The mathematician Alan Turing wrote a paper in 1950 on the idea of machines being able to simulate humans and have the ability to carry out intelligent tasks such as playing chess; but that is really based upon a computer processing logic rather than actually being able to think. The Turing Test in effect set the standard of what a machine could achieve by tricking a human being into thinking they were dealing with another person.

But it was WWII that triggered fresh ideas with developments in science and technology and after the end of the war Issac Asimov produced the Three Laws of Robotics, which was really about preventing our creations turning on us. He predicted a computer being able to store all human knowledge on a data base so that a person could ask it any question they wanted.

Not surprisingly with the onset of the Cold War the US government became increasingly interested in the subject of Ai in the hope that it might give them the upper hand against the USSR. Marvin Minsky, had the notion that advancements in Ai would only come about if computers were pre-programmed with human behaviour and it was this thinking that led him to team up with Stanley Kubrick the Director of 2001. A Space Odyssey. HAL, the onboard computer frightened the public when the film came out because it reinforced people’s fears that things could turn bad if we let computers develop to a point where they made decisions for us.

Artificial Intelligence began to pick up the pace on the mid-80s when business started to appreciate the genuine benefits of Ai and what it could mean for their products – and their bottom line. In 1997 the Deep Blue computer beat Gary Kasparov in a chess match and in 2002 we saw the first robots helping around the house; albeit in the context of hoovering up the mess after a spillage.

But once again it was the military who were trying to gain the edge on their opponents and in 2005 a robotic BigDog was created with the idea of being able to carry heavy loads for soldiers in combat. However, the major breakthrough in Ai came about in 2008 when Google’s speech recognition app on the iPhone was introduced. Since then we have seen computers win gameshows, robots learn to dance and now we are seeing rapid developments in driverless cars and computer games through Virtual Reality headsets.

The future of Ai and its impact on ORM

How we are ranked in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) matters to our online and digital reputations and negative sentiment is having far-reaching consequences that can mean long-term damage being caused to an individual or brand’s profile.

Advancements in Chatbots and Voice Activated Searches

As it stands the main method of being found is by someone typing a search phrase into Google (although don’t forget that Bing and Yahoo! also account for search traffic) and being delivered a page worth of results. Increasingly Chatbots are becoming far more user friendly and accurate and with advancements in voice activated searches that has consequences for p.1 of the SERPs. How so? Well, in effect it makes them redundant because you are only going to be served with one result – the top one, and that might not be to your liking if it’s negative news. Try it by asking Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant a search question.

What does it mean for the future of online searches?

This progression in Ai is happening now and at a rapid rate of knots and it seems that every week we hear about new technology or software developments in the sector that in the short and medium term are going to impact on search results.

Taking control of your own digital profile and ensuring you rank for positive content is therefore going to be vital if we see a move away from ‘traditional’ online methods of search, such as typing in a name. Nowadays, doing nothing and hoping matters will resolve themselves simply isn’t an option in the online reputation management space.