AI, Genetic Algorithms, Machine Learning.
It requires degrees and extensive programming experience to delve deeper into the value of things like Tensorflow(the nuts and bolts of creating machine learning software). It’s a toolkit for building advanced learning systems, provided courtesy of Google. Google wants grassroots developments to bring powerful applications of machine learning to the commercial world, and to consumers like you and I.
However, there are a few meaningful lessons to be gained from this cool video posted by Seth Bling. It reveals how one learning program approaches problem solving.
It’s also a lot more down-to-earth than most of IBM’s Watson big industry applications:
Seth made his genetic learning program beat a level of Super Mario World on an emulator.
Part 2 – MarI/O learns Mario Kart and A Few More Levels
While it may seem childish at first, the process of learning illustrated by this simple example can teach us a lot.
Let’s take a look at some of the lessons here.
#1 – Mistakes are always a part of learning and developing a model that produces a desired result
We can’t always get from point a to point b in single run.
Even if we succeeded immediately, we won’t have enough experience to replicate that success.
The computer program in the MarI/O program ran for about 24 hours to beat one level. It failed to successfully complete the level for 33 generations! That means 98% of the generations failed to reach the fitness level needed to complete the level.
Learning is required to advance. In affiliate marketing, that means a lot of your web projects will not be as successful as you may wish them to become.
#2 – Some models failed without increasing fitness and the programmer’s patience ran out
Every time we start something to progress our web project, we may be doing something that doesn’t add to its success. The web project simply sits. That was the case with MarI/O on some levels.
The next time you do something you believe will increase your website’s sales or affiliate income, ask yourself, “Does this action truly increase my website’s bottom line?”
Some actions we think add to our online income success may not be helping at all.
For example, recently we discovered our website was connecting better with Youtube viewers and on Tumblr, resulting in referrals to our site. Meanwhile, we had invested a lot of time into making connections on Twitter.
Working on Twitter, although helpful in building brand connections, wasn’t contributing to our website’s “fitness” financially speaking.
Is it time to reconsider the things you do to increase sales and conversion rates on your site?
#3 – Even after one stage of experience is completed, more learning experience is needed
The simple learning program MarI/O was able to successfully beat one level. But when Seth tried to run the program against a different challenge, it failed.
The program’s learning model was specific to one set of circumstances. That’s why it was unsuccessful at beating further levels.
What can we learn from this?
It had to acquire further sophistication through practice and training.
So when we apply ourselves to building an online income, achieving one level of success doesn’t mean that the next stage will automatically lend itself to us.
For example, let’s say you learned how to increase website traffic by blogging regularly. You begin blogging regularly. Soon, traffic has grown quite a bit – into the hundreds of uniques per day. However, income hasn’t budged.
By seeking out training and further practice in sales writing, you may be able to increase your website’s income. Until you’re practiced and have the right advice, your learning model will prevent further progress.
#4 – Attempting simpler levels with the simple program produced good results
The MarI/O program also teaches us one more lesson: applying whatever experiences you already have to a simple environment/circumstance can yield good results.
In other words, instead of approaching a difficult and entirely different online income approach – try an even simpler approach that has been advised. Don’t “bite off more than you can chew” is an apt expression; do what you know you can easily do and repeatedly do it.
You will gradually be more efficient and sophisticated at beating “one level”. Later on, as you see fit, you can expand your experience through training and real world applications of that training.
For now, focusing on doing little things that you enjoy doing for your website project(s) will produce (hopefully) expected results.
Contrariwise, approaching a completely unknown aspect of online income generation (dropshipping, arbitrage, newsletters, ebook writing, Kindle publishing, product development) may yield unclear results – for a very long time.
That would be because your experience (learning model) is limited at this time.
Seth Godin said it best, “Do small things.”
#5 – Any other problem but that one
Sometimes, you should try your hand at any other problem than the one that occupies your time.
Take for example puzzles. Let’s say you’re working on a 1000 piece puzzle. After attempting to get the outside edge of the picture for 15 minutes, you already feel exhausted (i.e, your pattern detection is not at your best).
By taking a break from that problem, you may later discover the solution to the outside edges of that puzzle, despite not having the inner pieces in place.
Trying hard for another 45 minutes might only lead to frustration as more fatigue sets in.
Don’t be disheartened if a complex thing like a website isn’t doing what you expect it to do. Instead approach another task, perhaps a completely different web project you have going.
Work there. Come around to that which puzzles you at another time, another day or week.
You may find you’ve found just the solution for it!
#6 – Time and repeated attempts
How smart was this MarI/O program again? It didn’t know which button to press to go forward. It was quite dull at first.
However, its strength is in numbers over the span of 24 hours. That’s how it got through the Mario level.
Many times, the learning program would reach a “plateau” where it didn’t progress for a long time. And only after some time it started to “climb again”, increasing its fitness.
The same rule applies to your online income: Continue to add on to your website, blogging regularly, adding affiliate links, promoting your website. Whatever you do, keep repeating small, simple steps that have brought you:
1) More traffic
2) Targeted traffic
3) Increased on-page time
4) Decreased bounce rates
5) Increased quantity of sales
6) Increased commissions
7) Increased commenting and leads from your site’s contact forms and comment sections
8) Increased social connections
…Time will do the rest.
#7 – Some learning models produce intriguing results
Remember how Mario skipped under a block and hit the turtle in a cramped space? Wasn’t that intriguing?
For some of us, finding a peculiar way to increase website traffic, engagement and sales can mean the difference between a dismal website and one that is financially viable.
When you approach building websites, explore and experiment. Sometimes you don’t need to follow the assumptions you’ve held onto about building websites and monetizing them.
You can be creative.
You can synthesize different ways of encouraging user submissions. You can try something different.
The MarI/O program shows us that sometimes, even if a model fails – we can take something from it and use it in another learning experience.
#8 – Some mistakes actually may not matter at all and can be adapted into technique
When a young sculptor or painter trains with his master, he may want to produce the same masterful curves or composition as his master. But what often happens? The young sculptor produces a lumpy thing, the young painter paints an unfocused melange.
When MarI/O was running the course successfully on its 34th generation, it kept hitting walls as it was running the course.
We found this curious. And despite those errors, MarI/O kept running and was able to reach a high level of “fitness”.
Sometimes, when you’re building your online income, composing article ideas, building up content bulk and inserting affiliate links – there’s room for error.
Despite hitting that brick head-on numerous times, MarI/O kept going, avoiding lots of dangerous areas and enemies.
That bump didn’t set him back at all. In fact, he finished the level. You can too, even if you’re lacking in expertise in key areas and keep bumping into them time and again.
#9 – Our assumptions can be obstacles to discerning novel approaches which have fitness
Some of our very dearest assumptions about generating an online income through affiliate websites may be obstacles.
It’s time to challenge some of those assumptions, to determine which are based on incredible knowledge and which are based in reality.
#10 – Carefully evaluating each action’s result
The cool thing about the learning program MarI/O? It’s progressive approach which included an evaluation routine: “Did this pattern produce an increase in fitness? YES or NO?”
Applying this manner of questioning may help your new web project succeed.
Carefully evaluate whether an action INCREASED fitness toward a goal, or DECREASED fitness toward a goal.
This will help you to have more clarity around the tasks that actually support the advancement of your web project.
#11 – Build onto successes
Genetic algorithms work by weeding out species with the least fitness while synthesizing randomized approaches based on more fit “parent” algorithms and learning models.
When you have a success that you believe can be attributed to an action you took for building your online income, then combine that action with other successful techniques and approaches.
Did social media posting on Facebook about your latest article help generate clicks to affiliate links on your blog? YES.
Did emailing the same article to your mailing list help increase sales? YES.
So repeat both those steps going forward.
Keep a list of successful actions and stop working on steps that have simply been a waste of time.
** That said, always remember to honor your visitors, respect the rules set out by search engines as best as you can and provide an honest service.
#12 – The simplest actions can lead to increased fitness
The action of pressing left on the controls led to increased fitness for MarI/O. It is the simplest of actions.
How can we apply this lesson?
Sometimes trying the simplest approach can lead to increased success for our web projects.
What is the simplest action you can take today for your most successful affiliate website?
Is it to retweet an article that contains affiliate links?
Is it to publish a new product review with a few affiliate links?
Try it. Test in simple ways until you build your online income.
SNES Joystick photo via Videogameshelf.com
Super Mario World Puzzle via VGBlogger.com