The Ouroboros Of Machine Learning

When machines return to their own vomit


The second gilded shrine of Tutankhamen, via

Ever since I learned the word ‘ouroboros’ (a snake eating its own tail) I’ve been seeing the creature everywhere. When all the cars pull into a junction and block each other. When Disney releases another remake. When AI learns from ‘Search Engine Optimized’ content to make more SEO content, which is then used to train more AI. That’s the Internet eating its own ‘long tail’. An ouroboros if I’ve ever seen one.

Said The Spider To The Fly

SEO is humans trying to think like a machine (Google), and write what the machine wants to read. Now we have AI reading this already mechanical content and vomiting out their own SEO content which gets fed back into the Search Engine. Like a dog returning to its vomit. We have to really question what sort of ‘engine’ we’re building here. Sounds like a perpetual bullshit machine.

When the World Wide Web (which I use interchangeably with Internet) started, the idea was that humans would learn HTML and make their own webpages. And, at the beginning, many people did. Not that many people, however, because learning even simple code was beyond most people’s ken. The web became the domain of corporations (.coms), including corporations that made it easier for humans to publish on their ‘platforms’. We…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at