We live in exciting times. The current rate of disruption is unprecedented – industries are morphing and evolving seemingly overnight with the aid of technology. Who would have thought that the largest taxi company in the world would own no taxis, or that Airbnb would be valued at $25.5 billion, again, without owning any accommodation. Many of these technologies were built on foundations created by women – think Ada Lovelace, who was essentially the ‘first computer programmer’; or Hedy Lamarr, who invented wireless transmissions technology that has created the foundations for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS. No doubt in the future women will continue to have a large role in transforming the world with these technologies.
These women have allowed us to create the following technologies that were once a thing of the future and have since become a part of our everyday lives without most people even realising it:
- RankBrain – RankBrain is the third most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, and is backed by their open source machine learning software TensorFlow (which is inspired by the neural networks found in human brains!) RankBrain is used to interpret what people search, to find relevant pages that may not use the specific wording searched for.
For example, you may want to find out“the name of the Irish guy in the movie who the widow falls in love with.” There are countless films about widows who fall in loveand a few of them have an Irish guy. But RankBrain will interpret what the user is asking, and provide results presenting P.S I Love You. It essentially acts as a translator, learning the way people express themselves, and transforming these queries into a form that Google’s search algorithm understands. This will impact the way businesses market themselves online, as they will have to understand what potential customers will be searching for, in order to optimise their search results.
- Blockchain – Imagine a world with no banks, where transactions of all types no longer need an intermediary to instill ‘trust’ that the transaction will happen without fraud. Enter Blockchain.
The Blockchain keeps an ever-growing file of distributed data records that are both robust and secure. Each record is kept in a block that is time stamped and has information that connects it to a previous block.
Most people have heard of Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency made famous for its prevalence in the Dark Web (the shadowy part of the Internet where you can buy drugs and weapons, or order a hit on someone, with virtual impunity) and is now more accepted at legitimate stores such as Amazon.com. The entire Bitcoin network relies on Blockchains, and the music industry has started using them to track revenue streams on music platforms like Spotify and YouTube, in order to honour the content creators with their share of revenue.
- Self-drive cars – Self-drive cars are no longer a thing of the future! Instead, it’s expected that self-drive cars could be prominent in our lives within a matter of “years, not decades,” according to Eric Schmidt from Alphabet Inc. (Google).
The biggest roadblocks to this being a reality are the regulatory concerns and the cost of production. However, once these have been navigated successfully, self-drive cars are expected to create safer roads and mitigate the 1.2 million traffic deaths that happen worldwide. The technology is getting so good, some have even said we will no longer need traffic signals, as each car will be connected to a network and will slow down or speed up, to maintain a continuous flow of traffic.
In the future, the blur between digital and non-digital is going to blur even further. The decreasing cost of sensors, the Internet of Things and wearable technology pave a future whereby our every movement will be recorded, monitored and reported on. We are likely to see a time in our lives where flying cars and robotic cleaners are no longer the realm of science fiction. Much of this technology will be built on the foundations of some incredible women and no doubt will be created and modified by some more incredible women who will join those names.
Richard Conway is Founder & CEO of Pure SEO.