A few months back, I found myself terrified of Google algorithms. SEO (search engine optimization), it seemed, was completely taking over: if you wanted a blog post or an article to be found on the first search results page on Google, you HAD to comply and write having most popular (most researched) keywords in mind. No SEO, no traffic: you can write the most brilliant blog post but nobody will read it because Google won't feature it in its search results. Comply or perish. A beautiful article on a wonderful and curious indigenous tribe in Panama would get pushed to the 3rd or 4th Google search results page, whereas a painfully dull "5 Things to do on the Caribbean Islands" listicle would be featured at the top of the first page. To beat Google algorithms, all you had to do was use the right keywords in the right sequence for the right amount of times. Sound like a job for a Google AI bot, not a creative writer, I thought.
At the same time, I was reading Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Y.N.Harari. In it, Harari was discussing an experiment where highly educated music aficionados were played three music pieces: one composed by J.S. Bach, one by Steve Larson, a music theory professor, and one by a computer called EMI. Before the experiment, Larson had no doubt the audience would easily pick which piece was written by who; but what happened was this: the audience thought that Larson's piece was written by a computer, and that the computer's piece was genuine Bach. So if a computer can write better music than Bach, surely it's only a question of time when writers will be replaced by AI, too?
And maybe that is in our future; who knows. In the meantime, I learned to work with the dreaded SEO. I just have to be sneaky about it or dance around it: I can still write my story about the strange indigenous tribe, but use the 'Caribbean Islands" as a keyword, sprinkling it over the text to appease the Google bots. Of course, SEO is a little more complicated than just keywords, and creative writing can still thrive regardless of what Google wants.
So is SEO killing creative writing, or are people who think that just Luddites unable to adapt and change?