By Chaz Wilke, Staff Writer
August 7, 2015

Stephen Hawking told the BBC that "the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." Bill Gates is confounded. "I don't understand why some people are not concerned," he told Reddit in a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything). Elon Musk considers AI to be humanity's "biggest existential threat."

Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, is no longer a quaint science fiction concept. It's here. It's now. And Google is leading the fore. For those unfamiliar, artificial Intelligence is a computer program that can complete functions normally reserved for the human brain. As professor Linda Gottfredson puts it, this intelligence is "a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience."

British company DeepMind Technologies is leading the charge towards true AI with its DeepMind program and had been courting buyers for some time now. Facebook entered negotiations to buy DeepMind in 2013, but the deal fell through. Last year, Google stepped up and acquired the company and its technology for a rumored $500 million.

What is DeepMind?

DeepMind is the latest attempt at Artificial Intelligence created by DeepMind Technologies in England. A previous attempt, IBM's Watson made news when it appeared opposite longest-winning-streak player Ken Jennings on Jeopardy. Watson won, but accessing random information when prompted is a rudimentary use of powerful AI.

DeepMind uses neural networks, like a database of images, webpages, or audio files, to access a wealth of knowledge. A neural network is different from a standard database as its structure is modeled after the human brain.

DeepMind's ability to distinguish between files is what differentiates a standard search algorithm into a learning artificial intelligence. This DeepMind could, in theory, be used for recognizing the difference between a dog's face and a human's face, this process is called DeepDream. And the manner in which DeepMind sees and interprets visual information looks like something Salvador Dali would see in a fever dream:

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Also, Google recently announced that DeepMind is able to access something akin to a human's short term memory. "This recoding in short term memory could be the path to artificial intelligence - the key to a machine understanding a concept and using it to extrapolate new ones," explains Geek.com.

Figuring out what to store in the short term memory and also how and when to access that information is where the DeepMind team is focused. It may seem easy to us humans, but remember that this is essentially a computer program exploring the world through a rudimentary set of commands and learning through trial and error.

Nature.com recently sat down with the heads of DeepMind to get a better understanding of how this computer brain parses and learns from external stimulation:

What impact might this have on search rankings?

If Google intends to create true AI, it begs the question: Will Google's search algorithm become fluid and constantly evolving? Will this bring an end to SEO? What of penalties? Will there be any way to evade the all seeing eye of DeepMind?

Well, if DeepMind's ability to learn and master video games is any indication, it appears the speed in which this artificial intelligence can learn and adapt is quite telling. And it seems this has been on Google's radar for some time now, Stephen Levy of Medium.com notes that "from its earliest days, the company's founders have been explicit that Google is an artificial intelligence company."

The underlying learning mechanic inherent in DeepMind could feasibly be applied to managing the removal of spam and investigating site quality at a speed never before seen. So those black hat tricks that worked in the past might get shut down considerably faster with the advanced DeepMind behind the wheel.

As one might have assumed, Google has made no announcement concerning DeepMind taking over the algorithms of the company's search results. However, Google has a track record of integrating all technologies it develops, so it seems only a matter of time before DeepMind is integrated into the algorithms that dictate search results.

Takeaway

Google has its fingers in many pies and DeepMind can benefit nearly each and every one. Artificial intelligence can make everything from Google's self-driving cars safer and smarter, to our search results more intuitive and spam-free. How that affects your SEO efforts remains to be seen. We may just be relegated to doing as Google says and create quality content with a great user experience.

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