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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Machine learning is revolutionizing the online marketplace

The world has come a long way from transport by horse and carriage and butter by the churner. Technology has propelled the world forward beyond expectation. Machine learning is one of the latest technological innovations to crash into existence, and it has already made waves. In fact, these waves were rippling into effect long before the concept became viable in the real world. AI and machine learning have long been the subject of entertainment tycoons, bringing to life tales of technology gone wrong in the worst ways imaginable. Technology has indeed evolved at a startling rate, and so it is little wonder that individuals watch or read these fictional tales of tech gone awry and voice concerns at the fast rate of turnover that our technology encompasses.

While it is true that software has evolved, and become smarter over time, there is no imminent (or distant, for that matter) threat that calls for immediate concern. And thankfully, the glorified depiction of rogue AI is settling. As leaders of the industry and the general public talk about the concept more and more, our general awareness and understanding has levelled out the strangled panic of ‘what if’. The concept of coexistence between man and machine in the face of technological advancement was once a distant concept, and now a stark reality.

Evolving technologies are shifting the digital landscape, with many businesses using search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization to capitalize on brand exposure and consumer awareness. While the means behind the medium may change, the fundamentals that drive the operation will always stay (relatively) the same. Despite this being true for most marketing concepts and processes, there are some new innovations that have come to fruition with the dawn of digital marketing. For example, embedding targeted keywords is vital for efficient search engine marketing (SEM). SEO focuses on improving a business’ performance in search engines. CRO serves as a function facet of improving the consumer experience, thus driving more loyal customers through the virtual doors of the business. These marketing tactics are small-scale technology, designed to have maximum impact. And now there are even bigger players in the game.

Machine learning has been dancing around the edges of general realization for years now, but has gone largely unnoticed (save for a few professionals in the field). The implementation of machine learning into businesses has been considered to be a threat in the past, but as more innovations are driven through the door, it becomes less of a concern and more of a necessity. As the ecommerce world continues to evolve, those that choose to function without SEO practices in mind will be left behind. While SEO practices are driven largely by human hands these days, there is no doubt that in the future, machine learning algorithms will drive more and more of a site’s visibility in search engines, taking the marketing tactic to new, previously undiscovered heights.

Big data is the core and the key to advances in machine learning in the marketing field. Since as early as 2010, AI and machine learning algorithms have been fed more and more data. The direct result of this rise in data implementation is that the AI algorithms can be taught more specific actions – meaning there will be more reach, more variety for the AI behind the marketing of today’s industries. Training computers to perform and respond to tasks based on examples has given the industry new hope. Rather than relying on human interference, the AI systems can program specific aspects of a business by task automation based on examples. The next challenge for machine learning is for the systems to be able to excel past learning pattern matching, and independently learn, understand, and reason with the world in a way that rivals how humans do. AI and machine learning development is impressive, to say the least, but its potential relies on human interference to ensure its succession. Without human hands to drive its evolution, AI and machine learning can only go so far.

AI and machine learning have propelled the world and all its industries forward more than we could have ever imagined. As innovation breeds innovation, there has been question of the rate at which such technologies are expanding and evolving. The glorified entertainment depictions that AI and machine learning technologies are the inspiration for have ignited panic in the public before, but thankfully the excitement has died down in the wake of the reality. AI and machine learning have been catalysts for technological innovation for years, revolutionising the health and science industries (among many others). However, they are only just now becoming the front runners for industries like ecommerce and hospitality. AI and machine learning provide the opportunity for the world to shift into an entirely tech-driven era. That era is well on the way to being fully automated.


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