How to speak ‘Search Engine’

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The challenge of how to ‘speak’ search engine and tell it how to surface our content is what Search Engine Optimisation is all about. But are we doing it as well as we could?

Christian J. Ward, partnerships lead at Yext, gave a webinar in partnership with Brighton SEO on ‘How to Speak Search Engine’, in which he looked at the current state of search and the problems inherent in how we produce the content that we expect search engines to find.

Search has changed dramatically since Google first began indexing the web in 1998, both in scale and in nature. Google alone executes more than two trillion searches every year – a scale that we can barely comprehend. Search, said Ward, is not just a process for a brand; it’s becoming the number one way that we interact with information generally.

But the way that we search has changed, too. At a recent CMA Digital Breakfast, digital journalist Adam Tinworth remarked that Google is becoming “much more of an answer engine” than a search engine – searches are increasingly phrased in the form of a question, and innovations like the Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippets aim to answer searchers’ questions without them needing to leave Google.

one great answer

We all want Google’s ‘answer engine’ to surface our content in response to searcher queries. One way to help ensure this happens is to write content that will satisfy questions that users might have when coming to our websites.

But even once we have, how can we direct Google and other search engines to the content that will provide the best answer?

Feeding baby Google

To illustrate a problem inherent with the way that we approach content online, Ward used an image which has to be the best depiction of ‘peak content’ that I’ve seen so far.

A presentation slide featuring a photo of an unhappy looking baby being fed with a spoon. The baby is wearing a bib with the word "Googoo" made up of letters from Google's old logo. To the left is a list of content types: Blogs, Ad copy, Featured articles, Webpages, Product write-ups, Menus, blurbs, Services, Lists. Underneath this the text reads "Unstructured..." and then "YUCK!"

These days, brands and websites are churning out more content than ever before in an effort to keep up with each other: blogs, ad copy, sponsored content, product write-ups, ordinary webpages and lots more.

“We’re trying to feed Google – the baby – great content information that, to some degree, it doesn’t want,” said Ward.

At least, not in a form that it can’t easily interpret.

“We pump out so much content that it is very difficult for Google to analyse it and to know what we’re talking about. And it’s partially because it’s unstructured content.”

As an example of how confusing this can be in practice, Ward looked at the search term “tombstone”, which has a whole array of possible meanings: Tombstone is the name of a popular 90s Western; it’s the name of a town in Arizona (for which the film was also named); a word meaning ‘headstone’ or ‘gravestone’; a brand of pizza; a Marvel comic book, and more. Which of these is going to be most relevant to the searcher?

A Google search results page for the keyword "tombstone". A drop-down list below the search bar shows the suggested searches "tombstone - film" and "tombstone - city in Arizona" as well as "tombstone cast" and "tombstone pizza". The search results mostly relate to the film Tombstone, and also include a Twitter user named TheLivingTombstone.

Of course, part of the game here is trying to guess what the searcher intends when they search for the word “tombstone”. But in our content, as well, we have to make it clear which “tombstone” we’re referring to, so that Google can more easily hone in on the right content and serve it to the user.

If you have a webpage about tombstones, and Google can’t tell whether it’s about headstones or pizzas, it won’t be able to show it to a user who is searching for one or the other.

Search engines want to provide their users with more rich data in search results: useful information like event dates, reviews, menus and other details that can answer their query at a glance, or at least help them decide which result will be the most relevant.

Ward quoted Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, who in his keynote speech at Google I/O, said,

“It’s not just enough to give [users] links. We really need to help them get things done in the real world.”

Ward believes that Google is working towards an eventual solution which means users will never have to open an app or website.

While this sounds like a very distant future (after all, there are bound to be some circumstances in which users are searching in order to find a website or app, not just an answer from Google), there’s no denying that Google has taken a huge step in this direction in recent years.

Putting definition around the cow

So what can content creators do to move with this trend, and set their websites apart from everything else in the vast sea of online content?

Warner showed a black-and-white photograph, which has been used by Ellen Langer in her work on mindfulness, and asked webinar attendees to volunteer what they thought it was a picture of.

cow illusion

Suggestions came back: a turtle, a skull, the Hindenburg. But when a few guiding lines were added to the image, the subject became clear: it is in fact a picture of a cow.

cow illusion 2

“Now that you see it, it’s impossible to unsee it,” said Ward. “There’s a lot of relationship around that, where just a little bit of definition can burn a pathway. And search works a lot like that.”

In other words, content creators need to put that bit of ‘definition’ around their content in a way that tells search engines what it represents, and what type of content it is. There’s a way to do this using search engine ‘language’, and it’s called structured data.

Structured data has been around for a few years now, and is known as a way to help search engines assess and understand content in order to better place it on the SERP. Yet in spite of this, a shockingly low proportion of website owners actually make use of it.

The Schema.org logo, consisting of white sans-serif text reading "schema.org" on a dark red background, with a slight shadow around the letters.

Take Schema.org, a markup language that is the result of a collaboration between Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex to create a structured data vocabulary that can be understood by all search engines.

A study by Searchmetrics in 2014 found that 36.6% of Google search results incorporated Schema rich snippets, yet only 0.3% of websites actually made use of Schema markup at all.

The study also found that pages which used Schema ranked on average 4 places higher in search than pages which didn’t, although Searchmetrics was keen to emphasise that this might not be entirely down to structured data.

But search results which use Schema are widely agreed to result in higher click-through rate, as they include more useful, relevant and attractive information like pictures, reviews, opening hours, pricing information and more.

So since this study was conducted two years ago, has the number of pages marked up with Schema increased significantly?

Ward did some quick calculations. The Schema.org website proudly proclaims that “Over 10 million sites use Schema.org to markup their pages and email messages.”

A slide from Christian Ward's webinar with white text on a dark background. The title is "Really? 10 Million?" and the text reads, "We passed one billion websites in September of 2014, and it's closer to 1.08 billion today. 10,000,000 divided by 1,080,000,000 = 0.926%. Less than 1%. Nice work, everyone!"

While this figure might sound impressive, it becomes less so when you realise that we passed one billion websites in September 2014, and the number today is closer to 1.08 billion. 10 million as a percentage of 1.08 billion equals… 0.926%. That’s an increase of only 0.626% since Searchmetrics’ study, and still less than 1% of the total websites out there.

“It’s staggering,” said Ward of the low number, “when you think of the ramifications of how much better search does when we can explain it.”

It’s not easy speaking search engine

So then why do so few website owners and content creators use Schema markup on their sites? “There’s a good reason for this,” Ward said. “We all know this is hard work. I don’t think it’s that we mean to be lazy, I just think that ultimately this is very hard to do.”

Until quite recently, for example, all Schema markup code had to be added in-line around the individual elements of the page.

Every element, from addresses and opening hours to reviews, needs to be defined individually with Schema, resulting in a lot of coding legwork and no small amount of headaches when it came to fitting it in with all the other code already on the page.

restaurant schema example

Just like any other language, learning to ‘speak’ search engine is going to require a lot of investment of time and effort. But, Ward maintains, it is definitely worth our while.

“This effort is a way to truly distinguish the work that you do and the work that our community does on behalf of our customers and clients. It just takes a lot of time.”

He pointed to the example of a search for the latitude and longitude of the Empire State Building, the answer to which is displayed in Google’s knowledge graph at the top of the search results page.

The website which provides this information uses Schema.org markup to point Google to where the relevant content is on its page, resulting in the “great user experience” of “one solid answer.”

lat-long schema example

And best practices around structured data are constantly evolving, making it easier for website owners to incorporate it into their code. Google used to only support Schema markup if it was written inline, insisting that the markup needed to be “visible to human users” as well as search engines.

But it has since reviewed this stance and expanded its support for a type of notation called JSON-LD, which allows structured data to be added to the header and footer of a page instead of inline.

Google’s introduction to structured data on Google Developers now states outright that JSON-LD is the recommended markup format for structured data.

“Schema, its use, and the taxonomies – they’re evolving constantly,” said Ward. “We have to get more involved in this process, as a community. We need to be working with Google, and with Yandex, and Yahoo! and Bing.

“Let’s start banding together to try and get some structure out there.”

A screencap of a Siri voice search asking "How big is the Serengeti?" Siri's answer pertains to the breed of cat, answering "Medium", rather than to the region in Africa.

If you need just one more reason to start incorporating structured data into your website markup, it should be the rise of voice search.

Ward cited statistics from Mary Meeker’s recently-released Internet Trends report which show that the volume of Google voice search queries is now 7x what it was in 2010, with 65% of smartphone owners using voice assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Now.

Users are getting used to being able to ask their voice assistants increasingly specific questions and get a single, definitive answer; but to make this possible, website owners need to be adding the structural markup around their information that will tell the assistant where to look.

“In the end, I want to be able to ask Alexa to email me the logo of the local 7-11, or, ‘Can you tell me if this place is closed or open right now? Do they have any specials right now? What’s the number one item on their menu?’” said Ward.

“All of that data has to be incredibly well-structured in order for us to get the result we’re looking for.”

Related reading

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How to speak ‘Search Engine’
https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/24/how-to-speak-search-engine/
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SEO – Search Engine Watch

Google enters the Artificial Intelligence race with Magenta

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The words Artificial Intelligence can bring to mind far-fetched, sci-fi ideas and a society where robots have replaced humans. Well, this idea may not be too far off given Google’s recent innovations.

Google recently released Magenta, a computer based system that has the ability to create pieces of music.

Even though its first melody sounds like a generic song pre-programed to a keyboard, the project is considered a success because the system taught itself. The system composed the 60-second melody with little human intervention.

Google engineers only provided Magenta with four notes to begin the process. They also added drums to add a bit of flair to the song.

Magenta is a project from the Google Brain team that questions the traditional view on computers. In the past, computers were generally seen only as an electronic device used for storing and processing data. But now, Magenta questions all of that.

With Magenta, the Google Brain Team is asking ‘can computer can learn to create compelling music all by itself?’

According to a blog post from Google, Magenta comes with two goals. First, it stands as a research project to advance the state of the art machine technology for music and art generation.

Second, the Google engineers hope that with Magenta they will create a community of artists, musicians, developers, and machine researchers.

While Google is the first to admit the program is in its infancy, the company is hopeful of its future potential. The company writes:

“We don’t know what artists and musicians will do with these new tools, but we’re excited to find out. Look at the history of creative tools. Daguerre and later Eastman didn’t imagine what Annie Liebovitz or Richard Avedon would accomplish in photography. Surely Rickenbacker and Gibson didn’t have Jimi Hendrix or St. Vincent in mind. We believe that the models that have worked so well in speech recognition, translation and image annotation will seed an exciting new crop of tools for art and music creation.”

This isn’t Google’s first rodeo with artificial intelligence, but the company sees Magenta as a stepping stone into the world of natural language processing. This move comes after Google noticed that more and more searches are being done by voice. Consequently, users expect their machines to understand the context of their commands.

Aritifical intelligence stat IDC

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet’s core Google division, explains “We think of this as building each user their own individual Google. Google does a lot of things, but if you peel away everything and you distill it, this is the heart of what we do. It’s what we are about.”

But Google isn’t the only tech company in the AI game. Earlier this year, Microsoft machine learning technology drew a Rembrandt painting through a 3D scanning device that gathered information from 300 plus paintings. The result was an original, unique self-portrait of the Dutch artist.

IBM has been working since 2005 to develop a supercomputer named Watson and Google’s Android has created an ‘open-ecosystem’ that will let users incorporate different technologies on one domain.

Even Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SPACE-X) believes that these developments in artificial technology will create computers so sophisticated that humans will eventually  need to implant “neural laces” in their brain to keep up.

But the true fight to be the best in artificial technology is between Google and Facebook.

Recently, Google released to the technology world that their program AlphaGo was able to beat the ancient game ‘Go’, which has long been considered the most challenging game for any artificial intelligence to learn.

Within days, Facebook mentioned that they were close to achieving the same success which demonstrated their seriousness in joining the AI race.

The social network also introduced its Deep Text understanding technology recently. The innovative software can understand the textual context of thousands of posts per second with almost human accuracy.

Deep Text can span over 20 languages, and Facebook plans to use this technology to improve user experience in different ways. It wants to help identify the best quality comments in a public post, improve transaction performance, and increase its Messenger app’s user-friendliness.

Both companies have completely different methods to achieve success in the AI world. While Facebook is generally concerned with improving its users’ experience, Google is hoping to integrate AI into all aspects of their services.

So where does this leave us?

AI stat IDC

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), by 2020, the market for machine learning applications will reach a whopping $40 billion and about 60% of those programs will run on the platforms of four different companies: Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft.

Both Facebook and Google are choosing to attract advertisers to their platforms by offering compelling techniques that will give marketers a better return on their ad spending. This action will undoubtedly make technology more accessible and improve its adaptability.

For Google, it hopes to change the artificial intelligence game. The company knows it won’t happen immediately, but its goal is to make their intelligence software applications widely accessible.

The IDC estimates that, by 2018, at least 50% of developers will include AI features, so it is clear that Magenta is just the springboard for bringing artificial intelligence mainstream.

As to how this news affects the SEO world – well, Penguin still hasn’t reared its head. Could it be that the update’s AI isn’t done learning yet? If so, how smart will it be?

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Google enters the Artificial Intelligence race with Magenta
https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/23/google-enters-the-artificial-intelligence-race-with-magenta/
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SEO – Search Engine Watch

How to optimise your m-commerce site for search

A graphic of a mobile phone with a striped red and white awning on its top, to make it resemble a shop front. The word "BUY" is displayed on the phone screen. A hand is hovering over the phone screen with one finger pressing on the word "BUY".

Image by Narendera, made available via CC0 (www.pixabay.com)

In 2015, Google announced that for the first time ever, it was seeing more searches taking place worldwide on mobile devices than on desktop.

The steady and unerring shift towards mobile over the past few years has meant that online retailers now need to think about ‘m-commerce’ as well as ecommerce.

M-commerce is the name given to retail transactions which take place on mobile, and retailers are increasingly aware of the importance of having a dedicated, optimised mobile presence in order to attract these transactions to their site.

But how can you make sure that your m-commerce site is as visible as possible to searching shoppers? Drawing on insights from our recent ClickZ Intelligence report, ‘The DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site’, here are some practical steps that you can take to make sure your m-commerce site is optimised for search.

Make sure your site is fully mobile-responsive

Having a mobile-responsive site is essential even when you aren’t looking at SEO. If your site is properly optimised for mobile, your customers will have a better experience, and will be more likely to convert and complete a transaction instead of getting frustrated and abandoning the process.

As Salvador Carrillo, CEO of Mobile Dreams Factory, writes in the report:

“Be clear that consumer behaviour is different in mobile, so everything is about UX and design – fewer clicks, prioritised search, short description, click to buy etc. The more frictionless the experience (payments, confirmations, refill, and so on), the more conversions.”

A graphic of two mobile phones side by side, one showing a cluttered webpage layout with a small image, lots of text and small navigation buttons. The cluttered phone display has a red circle with an X at the bottom of it. The other phone image has a mobile-optimised layout, with a large image, large text and navigation buttons, and a streamlined, vertical layout. This phone has a green circle with a tick at the bottom.Source: Google Resources for Webmasters

And on top of the advantages for customer experience and conversion, it’s a well-known fact that Google ranks sites that are fully mobile optimised higher up in search results, identifying them with a ‘mobile-friendly’ label to alert users to the sites where they will have a better experience. Bing also accounts for mobile optimisation when crawling and ranking sites.

Clearly, if you want to improve the search ranking of your m-commerce site, proper mobile optimisation is step one. So how can you make sure that your site is mobile-responsive as per Google’s standards?

To help you out, we’ve put together a comprehensive checklist of ways that you can make sure your m-commerce site passes all of Google’s tests to get that ‘mobile-friendly’ certification in search. And Andy Favell, the author of the ClickZ Intelligence report on m-commerce, has laid out how you can comprehensively test the mobile usability of your site when you’re done.

Implement app indexing and deep-linking

Now, you don’t necessarily need to have an app in order to have the best possible mobile presence for your retail business.

At our last #ClickZChat on what makes a great m-commerce experience, our intrepid tweeters discussed whether businesses should invest in a mobile site, or a dedicated app, for commerce, and concluded that it can depend on their needs.

But if you do have an m-commerce app or think that building one would be most suitable for your business, app indexing and deep-linking will give you a huge competitive advantage in search.

App indexing is when Google’s search ‘spiders’ crawl an app in the same way that they do a website, and present content from the app directly within search results. Tapping on that link will launch the app, if the user has it installed, and take them directly to the content.

App indexing is a ranking factor in search as well as being a great way to promote, yet only a minority of brands are making use of it. A study by Searchmetrics, conducted on the 100 most visible websites in Google US searches, found that only 30% of those with an Android app and 19% with an iOS app had implemented app indexing.

So in case you needed any more reasons to set this up, it will almost certainly allow you to get ahead of your competitors who aren’t yet using it. To get started, Dan Cristo has written a step-by-step guide on how to set up app indexing as a developer.

Speed up your site

Aside from a poorly adapted user interface, one of the biggest issues that can kill a mobile audience’s interest is site speed (or the lack of it). Google recognises this, which is why it has confirmed that the next mobile-friendly update will include page speed as a ranking factor.

According to Kissmetrics’ statistics on how website performance affects shopping behaviour, 40% of web users will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load, while a one-second delay (or three seconds of waiting) tends to decrease customer satisfaction by about 16%.

So the loading speed of your m-commerce site can have a real impact on your bottom line, as well as on your SEO.

A picture of a girl with short, dark hair and glowing white headphones, wearing a skintight metallic body suit and white gloves. She is flying through the air and punching ahead of her with one fist, speed lines indicating her fast motion.Image by Alan9187, CC0 public domain image

As Andy Favell writes in the ‘DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site’ report,

“With mobile, less is more. Less clutter. Fewer clicks. Fewer, smaller pictures. Easy navigation. If your responsive site is sending everything from your PC site to the mobile device, it will slow down load times and chomp through the customer’s data allowance.”

This is sound advice for improving both user experience and site load time: the less clutter, the better. Nor does it just apply to your mobile site (or app): site speed has long been a search ranking factor on desktop, so decreasing load times for all iterations of your site will improve your SEO across the board – as well as your customer satisfaction.

Kristi Hines’ piece for Search Engine Watch on why page speed should be your next focus has some actionable steps you can take to improve your site speed, including looking at your web host, website technology and content. And don’t miss Matt Owen’s detailed guide on how to optimise your page images to increase site speed.

There is one other option which can greatly improve the speed of your mobile presence: Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP.

Launched just four months ago, Accelerated Mobile Pages are specifically designed to load lightning-fast by stripping out much of the clutter that normally slows down page load times, like third-party scripts, trackers and in-line styling.

A screenshot of Google.com mobile results for "EU referendum", showing AMP-ified BBC News stories in the "top stories" carousel at the top of search results.

Google boasts that sites created with AMP can load anywhere from 15 to 85% faster than non-AMP mobile sites, which is bound to be a huge advantage for SEO; to say nothing of the fact that Google, as the creator of AMP, has a vested interest in promoting AMP websites in its search results.

The drawbacks are a lot of extra work for developers, as using AMP means creating an entirely separate version of a mobile site using Google’s new AMP-HTML web language.

SEOs are currently divided about whether or not to go all-in on AMP, and there is also the danger of spreading your web presence over too many platforms, which requires extra work and investment to maintain.

As with the mobile website versus app debate, ultimately it comes down to where you want to allocate your resources, and what you think would best suit your business.

Learn to ‘think mobile’

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when designing and optimising for mobile is to assume that mobile users have the same wants, needs and behaviour as desktop users.

Think about the way that you yourself browse, search and shop on mobile: you’re likely to be doing so in fundamentally different circumstances, and for different reasons, than if you were at a desktop computer.

An image of a stick person holding a mobile phone with the words "I want to..." underneath. To the right is a list of 16 options for things the mobile user might do, such as "Send a text message", "Watch a video", "Check the weather", "Call Mom" and "Listen to a song." At the bottom is a credit to Google Search Quality Guidelines.

Andy Favell recommends reading Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines (PDF), specifically the section on Understanding Mobile User Needs (page 56), to get a feel for how mobile search queries can differ from desktop queries, and why.

Google breaks down mobile search queries into four main categories: know, do, website and visit in person queries, and explains how they may have different user intent than the same queries on a desktop computer.

Understanding the types of queries that mobile users have, and what they are looking for, will help you to better cater to them with your site.

It is also important to remember voice search, which is increasingly how users interface with their mobile devices. Voice search queries use natural language, and it’s well worth looking into what this is and how you can adapt your site to better satisfy natural language and voice queries.

A stock photograph of a long-haired woman, shown from behind, using a Samsung mobile phone.The best way to get a sense of what works on mobile is to use mobile yourself

The best way to get a sense of how mobile users navigate the web, of course, is to do so yourself. As Favell writes in the report:

“There are tools that can help, but for m-commerce sites there really is no substitute for getting your mobile device(s) out and conducting web searches.”

Try out different search terms, using both keywords and natural language, and see how well your site ranks for each.

Google has confirmed that it is developing a separate mobile index to better answer queries on mobile devices where the user intent may differ. So the better you optimise for mobile now, the more of an advantage you’ll have with visibility when the new index, as well as subsequent updates to Google’s mobile algorithm, are launched.

For much more insight into the DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site, as well as other detailed reports and best practice guides on achieving digital dominance, head over to ClickZ Intelligence or browse our Reports Library.

Related reading

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Search Console Search Analytics

How to optimise your m-commerce site for search
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SEO – Search Engine Watch

A running tab of what tech people think about whether we’re living in a simulation


Are we living in a simulation?

For whatever reason, this is a hot topic in Silicon Valley these days. It all more or less started when Tesla Motors CEO (and soon to be SolarCity CEO — check one off for the simulation argument there) Elon Musk made a claim at the Code Conference that there’s such a high chance that we’re living in a simulation that it’s more likely we are than we aren’t.

The argument here is that games are becoming so lifelike already, and are increasingly blowing past the uncanny valley with rendering and AI improving, that there’s a pretty high chance that we’re also someone’s video game simulation. Here’s what he said at the conference:

“So it’s a given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or a PC and there would probably be billions of such computers and set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions.”

So, of course, we had to get to the bottom of simulationgate (or simgate, for short, is what we’ll call it). A couple of executives had answers to the question on stage at the Bloomberg Technology conference earlier this month, and we also pestered a few others on Twitter and over email as to what they think about whether or not we’re living in a simulation. Some answers are good, some are great and some need unpacking. But we decided that it’s important to keep a running tab of what people are saying about it.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, of course waxing philosophical: “if we’re in one, we’re likely in many.” (Solid points here for the multiverse theory applied to simulations.)

Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, had a better one: “Yes, you can tell because bacon and chocolate are good for you. That should make it obvious.”

Here’s a longer answer from Marc Andreessen from the Bloomberg Technology conference:

“There are some bugs in the system. Well so first of all, I think we need to leave it an open possibility that Elon is living in his own simulation. I mean, I really think we shouldn’t rule anything out…  I think in practice, I’m a little too practical for that, and even if we are in a simulation, apparently nobody — apparently the programmer has gone to lunch, and so I think it’s up to us to fix the bugs.”

GV’s Bill Maris had a more genuine answer:

I think, I’m not much of a philosopher, when I look in my newborn son’s eyes it’s hard for me to conclude that’s a simulation. And if it is, I don’t really care. My job is to take care of my family and help my companies succeed. I don’t have a lot of time to think about that. I don’t think Elon says things that are not truly held beliefs. I think there’s a better chance that an asteroid is about to crash through the ceiling so I’m more worried about that.”

Andreessen later further clarified his remarks to me on Twitter: “yes, but it’s awfully buggy.”

SpaceX investor Steve Jurvetson dug into the details at the Bloomberg Technology conference:

“Why is it we have the speed of light as this law? If you’re a game designer, that’s how you render the horizon line. If you look at smaller and smaller scales, pixels and voxels can be no smaller, there’s a minimum pixel size of the world… There’s no real proof in that, but it’s interesting food for thought.”

That’s pretty compelling, and one of the best cases so far for the fact that we’re living in a computer’s dreamscape — aside from the existence of Tronc™.

Here’s Andy Rubin, ever the jokester, at the Bloomberg Technology conference:

“If I was living in a simulation I would hope to have some control over it. I would definitely give myself way more hair, that’s how I know I’m probably not living in a simulation.”

And a long one from Yuri Milner from the same conference:

I think that many people are putting this forward as an explanation to solve Fermi paradox… We now know that life should be pretty widespread in the universe given the latest discoveries. We should have been seeing the signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, we should have seen it already

The reason we’re not seeing them, the only way to explain it is that we are living in a simulation which was created by them. I don’t necessarily agree with this basic premise, I think there are other ways to explain why we have not been visited, other than assuming we’re living in someone else’s simulation. But I also like one of the features of the simulation theory says, when would be a good time to switch off the simulation for someone running it, this is exactly when we discover that we’re living in a simulation. It’s interesting, we’ll see how it plays out.

I asked Box CEO Aaron Levie about this one on Twitter, as well. “Unclear,” he said. “But any world where Trump is an actual presidential nominee sure feels like a simulation.”

Jeff Bezos did not respond to an emailed query about whether or not we are living in a simulation. Provided we got his email right. And you never can tell, what with the uncertainty that I’m feeling about whether this is real life or not.

Here’s a list of people who have yet to respond on Twitter: LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner (congrats on that $26 billion exit, by the way); Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Dropbox CEO Drew “Cash Flow Positive” Houston; outspoken VC Bill Gurley; Bill Gates; Y Combinator’s Sam Altman (likely too busy worrying about universal basic income); Reid Hoffman; Uber CEO Travis Kalanick; Google CEO Sundar Pichai; Apple CEO Tim Cook. We’ve got some more requests on the subject in the pipeline, as well.

We’ll keep this post updated as more commentary comes in on the topic.

A running tab of what tech people think about whether we’re living in a simulation
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http://feeds.feedburner.com/TechCrunch/social
Social – TechCrunch
Startup and Technology News
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