Startup #101 – Self-Building Site

seattlenewyearHappy New Year, everyone!  While I should have been parked in front of a TV watching Lloyd Carr’s last victory at Michigan, I was instead flying through some pretty bad snowstorms reading a pretty good book.  It’s called “The Singularity Is Near” by futurist Ray Kurzweil, and it was the inspiration for today’s idea.  It’s a bit out there, but for those of you who have read the book, you’ll see where I’m coming from here…

Today’s site is more of an experiment than a real online application, but it’s a self-modifying website that uses a set of AI rules to rewrite it’s own code to become more effective over time.  To start, the site would be given a top-level goal that would measure how well it is evolving (i.e. generate the most revenue via ad click-through rates).  The site would also be given several parameters that it would be able to modify via the CSS file (such as menu positions, font size and type, colors, etc..) and several types of content that would be able to display.  The content could be modified in two dimension, the type of content (i.e. videos, text, pictures) and the catagory (i.e. technology, sports, politics, humor). 

The site would start with a set of initial parameters, and each time a visitor came to the site, it would alter one of the parameters.  If this altered version of the site worked well (i.e. the user clicked on an ad), the site would remember it.  Once per day, the site would run a process that would analyze the effects of the parameter changes and if there was anything that resulted in a statistically significant improvement in the site, the process would rewrite that parameter to make it part of the core functionality of the site.  Over time, this evolving site should be able to adapt to trends (such as user preferences to video over text or providing more political content during an election) and provide a self-maintaining mechanism to keep the site up-to-date.

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One response to “Startup #101 – Self-Building Site

  1. Hey, good to see that you started posting again! It seems to me like this is an interesting concept, but really just defining a set of parameters and then letting the algorithm see which setup scores the highest. It would be more interesting if the computer can actually come up with the parameters. I know Google does something like what you mentioned with its Adsense product, where it can help you define the best layout by testing multiple scenarios…

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