I have. A lot. And while I understood at a theoretical level that it was “all about the data” it wasn’t until this holidays that the penny finally dropped.
The cause was a book that I read a few years ago that jumped back off the shelf at me recently. It was one of those lazy summer days when I’d had enough beach time to feel completely relaxed but was over the chick lit and mysteries. I needed something to give the brain cells just a bit of a buzz.
You absorb holiday reading differently
The book was The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. If you’re ever looking to read something that will help you understand the extraordinary innovation we’re currently experiencing and get an idea on how to navigate it, Kelly is the bomb. He is the founding editor of Wired Magazine, and a recognised futurist and amazing trend spotter.
The Inevitable – Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future came out in late 2016. It is a definitive text that looks at how connectivity is becoming as essential as air, electricity and water; how data is fundamentally changing our lives; and the real impact of AI – not just on our jobs and what we do, but how we think, learn and collaborate.
Kelly has a small section on real estate and how it will be impacted by the technological trends. He called it “cognified real estate” where artificial intelligence matches the needs of buyers and sellers replacing agents. Back in December 2016 when I first read it, it was a bit of a “oh yeah, right” moment. Big data, robots, yada yada.
The network effect could impact real estate
But as I reread the section this holidays something else jumped out that made me double take. In describing ‘the network effect’ of technology and AI platforms, Kelly writes:
“The bigger the network, the more attractive it is to new users which makes it even bigger and thus more attractive. The more people who use it, the smarter it gets.”
Okay. So far so good. He also writes that “AI doesn’t think like humans,” because it is nerdy, narrow and offers supersmart specialisation, often to such a narrow and nerdy degree that it would bore humans rigid to try and think like that.
Google is using search to make its AI better
And then he drops the clanger based on a conversation he had with Google founder Larry Page many years ago. Page told Kelly that rather than use AI to make Google’s search better, Google is using search to make its AI better.
“With another 10 years of steady improvement to its AI algorithms, plus a thousand-fold more data and a hundred times more computing resources, Google will have an unrivalled AI,” Kelly writes.
Every trip we take in our driverless cars, or every journey we go on using Google Maps as our guides provides the Google AI with data and insights into our movements, our preferences, the kind of day we had, the things we did, the places we couldn’t get out of fast enough and where we loitered.
Google has a personalised profile on what I do and where I like to go
Think of the personalised profile that is building up on me as an individual on where I would best like to live. Combine it with my financial information, and it will show where I can afford to live that facilitates those journeys the easiest.
Match the reviews of the cafes and places I enjoy visiting with the features and menus that they offer, and Google AI will be able to show me other restaurants in other locations that are very similar and may be more in my price bracket.
Devices like Google Home have until now, been the missing link. Because my Google Home is not just telling me Dad jokes and what the weather is like.
It is also collecting reams of data on how I live, the devices I use, how my home performs in terms of lighting, heating and cooling. Very soon it will be the hub that connects all the smart devices in my home. This is likely to include my fridge (diet information), my wardrobe (spending habits), my bookshelf (education and spending habits!) and even my toilet (health information. Ew!)
Voice activation brings it all together
And with all of this extraordinary data, and algorithms and profiling being built up not just day by day but minute by minute, the Google AI with just a quick simple question will also be able to connect me with sellers in those areas.
“Hey Google, find me four homes that would be suitable for me to buy/rent.”
If you’re like me, you’ve thought of real estate applications on Google Home as things that real estate agents, or smart industry developers will get to soon because, yeah, it would be cool to be able to ask Google what house prices are in my suburb. It would be a great way for agents to get brand notoriety, right?
But what we’re talking about isn’t something done by an agent. It’s not a separate search the industry builds that requires a customer to visit, or a different mindset to be adopted.
Finding a home won’t be a special search, it will be like any search
Rather, it is a piece of functionality that is deeply embedded in the processes that all information is starting to come to us now. It is voice activation connected to ridiculously large big data sets being processed in nanoseconds and providing an answer to any question I think of, whenever I think of it.
In 2017, I wrote an article Why the Portals are Worried About Facebook. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Facebook is just a marketing, media and entertainment platform (a helluva one, but bear with me). The purpose of the data its collecting is really just to market more stuff to you.
What Kelly has revealed about Google is mind blowing. Because in 2019, with millions of Google Homes now in the market, you can see where this is really going. This is big data with a purpose. The purpose being to make all aspects of life easier because answers are simply a question away. And once the questions are answered, the action becomes easy.
“In a super-connected world, thinking different is the source of innovation and wealth,” Kelly writes. “Just being smart isn’t enough.”
There are a bunch of super smart real estate agents – and industry developers – out there. But the company with the biggest AI wins and we need to be innovating faster.
My money is on Google causing a revolution in real estate. Even if it’s just an accidental by-product of the other things they’re doing.
Content marketing strategist, researcher, journalist and presenter specialising in the real estate industry. I'm passionate about proptech, digital disruption and all things property, big data, leadership and entrepreneurial ideas, have an MBA and specialise in social and digital media content creation and automation.