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The Man Who Ignored Technology & Saved The World

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Image credit: rt.com

Technology systems are an integral part of modern business life, providing us with constant, useful data, however data needs proper analysis and interpretation to be reliable and useable. The best results are achieved with a combination of the effective analysis of good data, human intervention and intuition to instil a reality check in order to arrive at accurate conclusions.

In 1983 the Cold War was at its peak and tensions were running high between the Soviet Union and the USA. Only a few weeks previously the Soviets had shot down a Korean passenger jet, killing all 269 aboard, including many Americans. The Russians were wary of US President Reagan’s “Star Wars” system and feared a pre-emptive American strike.

On 29th September Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov of the Soviet army reported for his shift at the Soviet nuclear early warning centre. This was to be an extraordinary night.  For a few minutes Stanislav Petrov was to hold the fate of the world in his hands and his calm and intuitive interpretation of data was to avert a nuclear catastrophe.

System Reports Missile Attack on Russia

Just after midnight, the early warning system reported the Americans had launched a missile attack on Russia. All the systems bar one pointed to an American attack. Petrov had an instinct that it was a false detection, partly as he had not received visual confirmation.

He decided to wait before confirmation, and he reported a false alarm to his superiors instead of alerting command headquarters to an attack, which would doubtless have set in motion a retaliatory nuclear strike. Petrov retained his composure as alarms blared and lights flashed with increasing warnings of an attack, trusting his instinct that the warnings were false.

Fatal Warning Down to Technical Glitch

This was a dereliction of duty and breach of regulations by Petrov, the logical and safe thing for him to have done was to have passed on the responsibility and reported the attack up the chain. He later said that he feared that “as I was the first source of this information the danger was that as soon as I made a decision that this rocket is real, the rest of the chain of command could have been hypnotised by my conclusions. It’s like the cockerel crowing, the first cockerel in the village crows and the others all follow.”

After an agonising wait of ten minutes, relief came as the over-the-horizon radar systems confirmed that the alarm was false. Bizarrely, the false detection had been created by a rare alignment of sunlight that had reflected via the Earth into the satellite lenses.

Intuition Saves The Day, Not Technology

Computers can misinterpret information and report in error. That’s why all systems need a Petrov to analyse and say “hang on a minute”. It’s the kind of fine nuance of thought uniquely available to the human brain. Petrov had the intuition built up through knowledge and experience to question the information he was receiving. If a computer had been responsible for pressing the button there would have been dire consequences.

Petrov’s dilemma applies to the search for effective opinion leaders in the technology, pharmaceutical and other industries. A web search/algorithm can trawl for and arrange publicly available data, but can it spot through informed intuition whether alarms and flashing lights are real or fake? For that you need the skill of a team which not only understands how to programme the computer, but also how to interpret the social nuances of the world and its interconnecting relationships.

And as for the man who arguably saved the world? Petrov’s superiors treated him with the suspicion accorded a soldier who disobeys orders, he was reprimanded and took early retirement from the army soon after that fateful September night.

In today’s data-driven world it is important to question and discuss the information provided, with creativity, data and intuition proving the winning mix.

Petrov has since passed away, but his legacy lives on.

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

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0 comments on “Ok Google, is the future really Voice Search?”

Ok Google, is the future really Voice Search?

Ok Google, is the future really Voice search-

Technology is always evolving and the latest innovation, ‘Voice Search’ is gathering momentum, with the big players being Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Ok Google and Apple’s Siri at the forefront. Ever asked Siri or Alexa what the weather is like? That’s voice search. Instead of typing and searching for a keyword or phrase, you can simply ask out loud where the nearest bar or coffee shop is. Utilising natural language processing, a computer science concerned with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these artificial assistants can listen and respond to search queries almost like a real human.

Voice Search is one of the biggest SEO trends

Used by many consumers already, Voice Search is set to be one of the biggest SEO trends for 2017 and thus comes with many opportunities, as well as challenges to overcome. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during his Google I/O keynote that 1/5 searches made with Google Android App is a Voice Search.

How will this affect PR and digital marketing professionals?

Not only will clients want to be discoverable on a standardised search but also in a Voice Search. It will no longer be viable to just focus on short tail keywords, but with the nature of the conversational queries asked using a Voice Search, it will become imperative to monitor and maximise long tail keywords and phrases too. Furthermore, with the bulk of Voice Search queries based on proximity of a company or product, it’s essential to ensure your business location base is optimised.

However, despite how advanced artificial assistants are, they are still a long way off being perfect. The main issue is the mismatch between what is being asked and what the AI captures, often ‘hearing’ incorrectly, producing misspelt words and thus irrelevant search results.

Voice Search is here to stay

That said, Voice Search is only going to improve, so here are our main pointers for being agile and embracing AI into your digital marketing and PR strategy:

  • Longer, conversational style queries including natural language and question phrases are used more.
  • Location optimised results are paramount.
  • Voice Search queries amount to higher intent, as buyers are nearer the ‘decision, purchase’ stage.

Voice Search isn’t the future. It’s happening right now, isn’t that right Siri?

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated, measurable PR and Digital marketing strategy. We can help you boost your business. Email michael@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Follow us: Twitter @PRexpertsUK   Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com