Hector the Connector Predictions for 2016 and Beyond!

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By Hector E. Cisneros

Every year I write a predictions article based on what I see coming to the web in the not so distant future. These predictions cover the gamut from conventional advertising, to digital marketing, from new tech toys for our homes and personal use, to innovative game changing technologies that will alter the world as we know it. Some of my predictions are based on research, visible trends and the emergence of breakthrough technologies. Others are based on what I see as missing in a world full of me too products, poor customer service and blatant false advertising. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, I am going to go out on a limb (again) and see if I can keep my 98.5% prediction batting average streak going for another year. So read on and discover what my crystal ball has in store for 2016 and beyond.

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Artificial Intelligence – First off I want to start with some of the big trends that will have a huge impact on all technologies. AI, is one of those technologies. Every major tech corporation is investing heavily in AI. These include IBM, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. These companies have already released the AI hound on the consuming public as integrated benefits of their Smart devices. This includes: cars that drive themselves, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, Digital assistances and other smart appliances. Many of the search engines for the big directories and social networks have rolled out portions of these products to increase efficiencies and to lower labor cost for their companies. Drones and robots are becoming things of science fact. AI – coming to an Internet of Things product near you today!

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Cloud ComputingCloud computing has become a godsend to many businesses small and large. It has also become a staple of many individuals hosting their music, photo and video libraries online verses using that old hard drive or other backup device. I see most companies moving their software products to the cloud because they can make more money in the long run selling their services as a subscription. This also allows them to produce more predictable income - two very important components of a sustainable business. Cloud computing is closely tied to our love for instant gratification, convenience and on demand content, storage of our data. The cloud also lends itself as a vital aspect for the utilization of the Internet of Things. Move over PC – say hello to my cumulus friend.

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Programmatic – You’ may or may not have heard this term yet, but in the advertising world it’s the buzz word of the year. Programmatic’s is a series of digital advertising technologies designed to provide predictive automated advertising sales and media buys online by computers, based on active client data and selected goals.  This will be a huge part of digital advertising by 2017 and most of the big players will be using it. Also, by that time it will be working its way into the entry level marketers as well.  If all things are equal, this technology can make it so that media buys are much more targeted and should produce better ROI. However, having said that, all software driven advertising products are susceptible to sleight of hand (i.e., fraud) and I predict that programmatic’s will be infiltrated by the same greedy players that have tarnished Pay Per Click and Pay Per impression advertising.

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SEO Predictions – Every year, the search engines make changes to their algorithms. You don’t need a crystal ball to know this. However, I see new changes coming to Google, Yahoo, Bing and Facebook (yeah, Facebook is a search engine) for very different reasons. Google has already incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) into their search ranking factors, and has a major push to get everyone on board with their cloud computing services. Yahoo is in bed with Microsoft and of course Microsoft owns Bing. Microsoft’s two biggest initiatives include clouds and AI tech.  Hmm, I see a trend here. Facebook is heavily investing in its own AI called “M” and will be launching it on their platform as well. Cloud computing and AI will begin to pervade every aspect of digital marketing and our world, especially as we move into the Internet of Things Era. (Have you see the new Terminator movie?)
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Social Media Predictions – Not long ago I predicted that one of the top social media players would make a misstep and fall from grace. That player happened to be Twitter. Twitter is ripe for a hostile takeover and I predict one of the tech giants will swallow it up. Some say it will be Google, I think it will be Microsoft, since it is one of the few tech giants that does not own a piece of the social pie.

We will continue to see the jostling of the players’ market share as they buy up smaller players and tech companies. I still predict that the social media companies that move to more business friendly practices will continue to grow and stay strong. Facebook which has not been business friendly has managed to grow and stay strong by acquiring other companies and technologies. However, it is my belief that if a company wants to stay the world leader in social media, it has to lead in customer service and be business friendly. At present Facebook is not leading in these criteria.

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Terrorists will continue to exploit social media as a means to draw recruits to their causes. Eventually this will be curtailed by governments and technologies. However, the terrorists will fight back by creating their own social networks and smart device apps, creating a digital arms race in the near future.

In the past few years, social media has evolved into a medium that includes pay per click, pay per impressions, pay per acquisitions and e-commerce sales. It is now a broad spectrum medium that covers News feeds, blogging, photo galleries, video and member platforms that produce a rich multimedia experience.  It has added video casting and video communications as a centerpiece of their networks. New players like Periscope and others will emerge and be swallowed by one of the big players.

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Social media will move into the arena of social movie watching where online TV show and movie networks provide content to socially active audiences, which in turn can interact and rank the content they are watching live.  This will have a direct effect on the profitability of content being streamed and this voting will affect how movie marketing is selected and implemented in the not so distant future.

Pay Per Click – as of late, pay per click has been exposed as having a dark underbelly. Some studies have shown that as many as 60 percent of PPC spends are for bot clicks. As we move into the era of Programmatics the temptation of cheating is almost too strong for greedy media marketing companies to ignore. What’s funny is they can easily get away with it if you understand the math. They don’t have to cheat you for 10% of your media buy. It doesn’t have to be 5% or
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even 1%. They can skim a half of a percent and make millions, if not  billions, each year without anyone noticing. Another way they make a fortune is on the stop order on all media buys. Stop orders always seem to go over by a few dollars (i.e. you set the stop order at $500 and it stopped at $508 instead). If you multiply this by a million advertisers, you have an 8-million-dollar in overcharges.  Now make sure you understand, I am not saying Google, Facebook, LinkedIn. Twitter or Microsoft are cheating you (even though some of them have been caught cheating in the past). What I am saying is that they can cheat in a way that will go unnoticed. This nickel and dime thievery will draw enough attention to cause someone to mount a lawsuit on their integrity. This trend will only get bigger, (time to buy big tech giant stocks).

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Security Predictions – The Hack-a-ton will continue and will show not slow down anytime soon. Bad guys have a big edge and they are organized. Add to this they now have easy soft targets like smart appliances, mobile devices, smart cars and automated drones as targets. The Internet of Things will add to this nightmare and insure it will get worse. On top of that, they have a new frontier – Artificial Intelligence! Not only will they be able to exploit this burgeoning technology, they will be some of the leading engineers developing smart software that does the hacking for them!

High Tech Predictions – There will be a multitude of old technologies that come of age in the next few years. Many new technologies (like nano tech) that have debuted in recent years will change our world forever. 3D printers are entering the mainstream, now being sold in places Like Sam’s Club and other retailers. All of the big players will continue to upgrade their cash cow technologies. Smart phones, tablets, smart watches, health trackers, smart clothing, smart appliances, smart cars and smart houses will become the norm. From a business and consumer point of view – people will have to choose sides.
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What I mean is, you will have to pick a family of products to go with. You will be an Apple family, or an Android couple, or maybe even a Microsoft clan user! Wearables will evolve as all tech does, but the greatest gains will come when the tech companies shrink the size and triple the life of the batteries in these products. Waterproofing will become standard and devices will also become more rugged, flexible and more ubiquitous. I foresee Casio becoming a big player by the virtue of their solar charging watch technology in the near future. They will either sell this tech to other companies in an effort to catch up or transfer this tech to other smart devices to expand their lines.

Politicians and the Political Process – They say all is fair in love, war and politics – at
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least that’s what many politicians would have us believe.  In the last several election cycles politicians have made promises they never intended to keep. Heck, there’s nothing new here. What is new however, is how politicians can highly target social media constituents with positive, negative and deceptive messages. This trend began in earnest with the 2008 election. Enter Programmatic’s and we now have even more highly target ads bombarding us. And, as stated earlier in this article, automation comes with the risk of fraud and deception. Politicians have gotten very good at creating political ads that are designed to persuade or dissuade voters, even though the ads contained deceptive information. We as a people need to become more informed and active in the political process if we want to keep our fragile democracy. Elections that are determined by uninformed voters are a sure pathway to the loss of freedom and the American way. Believing what is said on the internet is not a strategy for being informed.

Speaking of fraud, I predict that a major scandal will emerge in the voter fraud arena.
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 Americans have to wake up to the fact that many elections in our country are now being processed by computers. And wherever computers are used, fraud can be used to change the results.  We need to ensure that safeguards are put in place to make sure elections are not stolen. The most important things Americans can do is hold the press to a higher standard. In the last 20 years or so, the press has lost most of its objective nature and now usually reports with the slant of an agenda. We need to stop this type of reporting by patronizing media companies that hold higher objective principles and by voting for those politicians who speak out against bias reporting. We live in a highly automated world. It is becoming more automated everyday. The last thing we need is an automated political process picking our leaders. Automation and politics is a sure formula for the destruction of our democracy.

In this article I have provided a look into nine subjects that are evolving before our eyes. The next four years will bring about vast changes to our world. The near future holds radical changes for conventional and digital marketing. New innovative inventions will alter how we live, work, play and consume things. Most importantly, these changes will affect our political process and the way of life we have as Americans. It is my hope that every American will take responsibility to learn about the automation they are using. We need to take responsibility for what we buy, use, listen to, and who we elect as our leaders. The Internet of Things has vast implications for the loss of freedoms and privacy. We need to speak out and elect people willing to take the time to understand the use of these technologies and to make sure they implement safeguards for our protection.

That’s my opinion, I look forward to reading yours.

If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you have a comment or a different opinion, join the conversation by adding it to the comment section below. I recommend checking out "The Evolution of Social Media Networking & its Imminent Future" or "Are You Prepared for Mobilgeddon?", “New Year, New Internet Rules “ and "Has the Internet Made Us Smarter?".  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “Predictions" or “Change” in the search box at the top of this blog.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," (in its 3rd edition), please fill in the form below. You will gain immediate access to it and as always, your information is always kept private and is never sold. Don't forget to Plus us on Google+.

Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and Social Media Director for the award-winning, Internet-based marketing firm, Working  the Web to Win, in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+,  LinkedIn,  and YouTube.  He’s also the co-host of BlogTalkRadio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Working the Web to Win’s co-founder, Carl Weiss, make working the web to win simple for every business. He's a published author of three  books, "60 Seconds to Success"(available at Amazon and B&N), and "Internet Marketing for the 21st Century," which you can get by filling out the form above. He’s also the co-author of the new book, “Working The Web to Win,” which is now available on Amazon.com.

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Do Smartphones Dream About Facebook?

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By Carl Weiss

You may not have noticed, but artificial intelligence, otherwise known as AI, has been sending its all-knowing tendrils slowly but surely onto the World Wide Web.  Many of the largest tech companies are arduously working to be the first to perfect this technology so they can corner the market. The big players include Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. Google has been in the headlines a lot recently. At first, its foray online was tenuous at best and comical at worst when Google created an AI that it turned loose to try to make sense of the images it encountered.  Hoping to find a workaround for one of the search engine’s biggest lapses, which makes search engine spiders blind to images and videos, the attempt resulted in hilarity when Google’s creation began to morph images as it tried to make sense of queries posed about them. 
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For example: When asked to display a picture of a dumbbell, it created a representation of the dumbbell, complete with the arm holding it.  (See image at right)

f this were the only aberration exhibited by the AI it would be considered a humorous anomaly.  However, this proved to only be the tip of the AI iceberg.  Many of the requests for images put to Google’s neural net returned bizarre pictures that produced chimeras that were one part animal and one part object.  (If you want to see some truly bizarre creations, go to this link to see the blog post on iflscience.com entitled, Google’s AI Can Dream and Here’s What it Looks Like.

Other than answering Isaac Asimov’s query as to whether Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, what Google may have inadvertently done was to create the world’s first robotic Picasso.   What they also did was unleash the same image recognition facility that causes people to see a Man in the Moon, or recognizable patterns in clouds.  The difference is that not only can Google’s neural net find the shape of a pig in a cumulous cloud, it can also “See” visual patterns in sound. 
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Undeterred by the psychedelic tendencies of its creation, Google then went on to unleash its AI on everything from its digital assistant, called Google Now, to search engine tasks, the latter of which has been dubbed RankBrain. 

Using what it learned from its foray into image recognition, Google’s latest AI iteration has been tasked with making sense of queries posed to its search engine, particularly long-tailed queries.  The best way to understand the purpose of RankBrain is to read this a short paragraph posted on Bloomberg.com:

The system helps Google deal with the 15 percent of queries a day it gets which its systems have never seen before. For example, it’s adept at dealing with ambiguous queries, like, “What’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain?” And RankBrain’s usage of AI means it works differently than the other technologies in the search engine.

What makes RankBrain different from traditional search engine algorithms is that it “learns” from
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experience.  While it isn’t yet ready to pass the Turing Test, where an AI is indistinguishable from a human when conversing with it, it appears to be on the right track. RankBrain has for the past few month been asked to deal with the 15 percent of queries a day Google gets which its systems have trouble deciphering.  And while it doesn’t exactly “converse” with search engine users, it has already proven 10% more efficient at guessing which pages on Google would rank on top.  (Not bad for a 4-month old.) 

One of Google’s senior scientists, Greg Corrado, even admitted that in the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.

Google’s CEO Sundar Pinchai also admitted, “Machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing.”

While currently RankBrain is the tail that wags the Google’s dog, there are a number of tech analysts that think AI is going to take on a larger portion of search engine duties for the world’s most popular search engine.  There are also several who think this might not be a good thing.

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In a blog post by thesempost.com entitled, “Google’s RankBrain – 9 Industry Experts Weigh In,” Jack Clark commented that, RankBrain cannot learn on its own yet. It needs to be retrained by engineers at the moment. But what happens when algorithms are unleashed on the web that can learn on the fly based on the billions of queries being performed each day globally? When that happens, not even Google’s engineers will fully understand how each algorithm works.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I feel more than slightly uneasy about giving up control of the Internet to a thinking machine.  Especially when the Internet is wired into nearly everything that humans do on a day to day basis.  Now some people would say that I am taking this view to the extreme.  I mean, RankBrain is only a tool being employed on one search engine, albeit it a search engine that dominates search.  Taking the alarmist view of “Today the Internet, tomorrow the world” is going a bit too far, right?  Not if you ask several public figures, such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk their thoughts.

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He told the BBC: "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.

Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX put it more bluntly, when he expressed the opinion that, “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon.” He also admitted that he “invests in companies working on artificial intelligence, just to be able to keep an eye on the technology".

This philosophy is hardly what one could call paranoid, since a number of other major players, including Facebook and Microsoft are also investing heavily in AI.

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For more than a year Facebook has been quietly building a project called Facebook AI Research, which it intends to use to make sense of the tidal wave of text, photos and videos housed on its social net.  Boasting well-funded research teams in Menlo Park, New York and Paris, its espoused aim is to, "work openly with and invest in the AI research community in France, the EU, and beyond as we strive to make meaningful progress in these fields”.

Facebook’s director of research, Professor Yann LeCun, one of the most prominent figures in Deep Learning research, stated in September that, “One of the dreams we have had for years is some sort of intelligent agent that seems clever enough to do a lot of tasks, including organizing meetings with friends and accessing information that might take you an hour or two on Google.”

To assist in those aims, Facebook recently launched a virtual assistant called “M”, which is an obvious response to Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana.  The difference with M is that it was created with AI from the outset.

“What we are hoping to do is take this digital assistant idea to the next level. If you think about Siri, Cortana, Google Now – most of the answers they provide are scripted. Someone has imagined the possible answers and figured out a tree of possibilities. If you go outside of the script, the machine responds with a joke or tries to get out of it. All of its behavior is programmed by humans, but what we are trying to do with M is test the ability of a machine to learn.”  Professor Yann LeCun

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To those ends, Facebook has been spending time and money acquiring talent and AI firms in their quest to enhance machine intelligence.  In 2014, they spend $40 million to acquire Vicarious FPC, an artificial intelligence firm whose avowed goal is to “replicate the neocortex, “which is the part of the brain that sees, controls body functions, understands language and processes math.  Not only did Facebook go in on the deal, the buyout was split between it, Apple Computer and none other than Elon Musk.

Can Microsoft Reinvent Itself Via AI?

Not to be outdone and vying to climb back to the top of the tech pyramid, Microsoft has also been pushing a pile of chips into the AI pot.  Entering the fray on two fronts, machine learning and what is referred to as “invisible interface technology,” Microsoft is looking to reinvent the way we access technology.

Yoram Yaacovi, who heads up Microsoft’s research and development center in Israel, said in a Wall Street Journal interview in 2014 that, “User interface started with the command prompt, moved to graphics, then touch, and then gestures. It’s now moving to invisible UI, where there is nothing to operate. The tech around you understands you and what you want to do” — and that’s what people expect, he said. “We’re putting this at the forefront of our efforts".

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The last statement begs to ask, “What if your device understands the request, but fails to comply?  In the sci-fi classic, 2001 a Space Odyssey, HAL, the artificial intelligence that controlled the spaceship Discovery decided that the best way to complete its mission was to kill the human crew that manned it. Mirroring that sentiment, Elon Musk recently quipped on stage that a future AI system tasked with eliminating spam might decide the best way to accomplish that aim was to eliminate humans. 

Whether this is just a case of life imitating art, or whether it’s something we need to take a hard look at, the bottom line is that AI will soon worm its way into every Internet-enabled device on the planet.  Since everything from appliances we have in our homes and offices to the vehicles we drive, or are driven or flown by are connected to the World Wide Web, only time will tell if having a “brain in the box” is a good thing or a bad thing.

All I know is that I have enough trouble trying to keep my smartphone from rewriting every text I post.  What really causes me to lose sleep at night is worrying about how long it’s going to be before I’m forced to say, “Open the garage door, Hal.”  

In this article I discuss how the development of AI (artificial intelligence) is creeping into all aspects of the web and global communications. This article further provides details on how the largest tech companies including Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon are all in a race to corner the AI market. It also discusses how little regard is being given to the idea that AI could pose a threat to mankind.
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If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 12/15/15. I recommend checking out "Has the Internet Made Us Smarter?“, “When Will Computers Out Think You?”, “Is Google Watching You?”  and “The Robots Are Coming - Are You Ready?”. You can also search for other related articles by typing in “artificial intelligence” in the search box top of this blog.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold. Don't forget to Plus us on Google+.

Carl Weiss is president of WorkingtheWebtoWin.com a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida that routinely works with bloggers and other online marketers to grow their businesses. 

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