Rules and guides are the basis of all computer systems. It’s through these factors that the abstract is given context, that silicon and electricity generate coherence and purpose.
As much as we might understand the use and need for algorithms on a basic level, however, unless you’re a programmer, we tend to underestimate just how significant they can be.
Algorithms play a part in every digital system, from performing basic behind-the-scenes tasks to acting as the fundamental basis of an entire industry.
Looking at five standouts, we want to explore some of the ways algorithms interact with our digital lives. You can’t escape them, and while they don’t require any thanks, their contributions are continuously working to make things better, faster, and more convenient.
SEO Makes The World Go Round
There was a time when the online space was filled with many different search engines. WebCrawler, AltaVista, and Ask Jeeves were all popular names way back when, though the full list ran much wider.
Today, Google dominates the space, and for better or worse, it’s the center around which much of the online world revolves. This is because of an algorithm tied into how searches operate, called search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO works by looking at the content of a page and measuring all of its elements. Does it have spelling errors, is it on a much-used website, is the website or term trending, does it have links to others, and is it linked to?
These aspects and much more play into the SEO algorithm which, if properly catered to, will place a page higher in a list of search results. The higher the result, the more clicks, the more money, and the better a business can be expected to perform on the digital frontier.
Biometric Safety Systems
Easy-to-remember passwords were key in the early internet, but as technology improved, they became easier to exploit. To combat this problem, more advanced security systems like biometrics are becoming increasingly common.
Instead of using numbers, letters, and special characters directly, biometrics utilize algorithms to translate human features like faces and fingerprints into advanced mathematical interpretations.
By locking the aspects of these features to a user’s device, biometric algorithms can then essentially use a person’s physical attributes as a key. If this key fits into the lock of a mobile phone, computer, or website, they’re given access.
Not only are biometrics much more difficult to hack than traditional security systems, but they also cut out the annoying busywork. Biometrics means no more having to constantly change passwords, remember dozens of codes, and make mistakes that lead through the painful password recovery and reset processes.
Random Number Generators For Interactive Entertainment
In interactive entertainment, many experiences try to emulate real life. Whether it’s the behavior of a soldier in a video game or the launch of a pinball, this runs into problems with probability.
With the strictest rules, everything can be predictable. Such rules can make interactive experiences uninteresting at best, or potentially open to attacks at worst.
The solution to this problem is often found with a random number generator or RNG. An RNG algorithm inserts random numbers into programming maths, adding uncertainty and addressing issues of boredom and exploitation. In both instances, online slots can illustrate how and why RNG works.
In terms of gameplay, slot games use RNG to determine how the reels operate. With random stops, players never know where the digital barrels will end, perfectly emulating the chances of the physical game.
Highly rated casino online games and video slots like Road Rage and The Rave also use RNG to ensure the casino stays safe, as random numbers can’t be exploited by those looking to manipulate the odds outside of the game’s design. Every part of slot software is guided by RNG, as a foundation of every slot system in the digital world.
Guided Experiences In Streaming Services
As streaming continues to usurp traditional broadcast and cable television, its core advantages are obvious and undeniable. Being able to watch on demand, repeat as often as you like, and get a far greater selection than older systems is key, but it’s just the start of what modern streaming services can offer.
This is because while users might purchase a subscription to watch what they want now; streaming services stay active through continued payments. Aiding in customer retention is where algorithms come in.
By looking at the patterns of prolific viewers, user history, and growing trends, predictive algorithms in streaming can suggest movies or shows for customers to watch next.
Guidance can lead them to experiences they’d miss otherwise, maybe even introducing new obsessions and favorites. After all, the premise of a show like Tiger King might seem too silly for somebody to seek out on their own, but once it starts, there’s no denying the appeal is broader than we might suspect.
Machine Learning Systems
Machine learning is a way in which machines can teach themselves. These are guided by algorithms, with AI working through input data to predict output values. Over time and iterations, this process can help a machine narrow down what works and what doesn’t, cutting out more labor-intensive human work.
Implementing machine learning into the digital systems we use takes many forms. From filtering spam emails to detecting unusual bank transactions, many algorithms are built with input from machine learning.
Perhaps most visible is machine learning work in autonomous moving systems, like automatic vacuums, and maybe one day, reliable automated vehicles.
Whether looking at searching, safety, fun, or software improvement, algorithms have a hand in every digital pie. Even if the implementation is something we overlook, algorithms are always in the background, working and updating to keep our digital lives running smoothly.
They might not be perfect, but we’d be lost without them, and as long as digital technology exists, they’ll always be a part of our lives. Just make sure, if you have a choice, to select the one which is best for you because like any technology, not all algorithms are created equal.