Algorithms are the online version of the supermarket endcap displays. They are used to suggest what we might like or need, collect behavioral data, and build potential profiles either specifically or generally. They “tell” us what we should wear shaping our fashion choices; determine which ad to display for the most likely click or action; play the next song that we may like; or reinforce a pattern. This programming also helps us find the shortest real-time route in a traffic app, narrow down restaurant choices, or even a date for that matter.
Algorithms can tell a banker whether someone will pay back a loan. They can pick the right applicant out of thousands of resumes. They assist judges to determine a prisoner’s risk of returning to a life of crime. These algorithms can improve our decision-making by considering troves of data, and then reducing human error.
But we’re also learning that algorithms, like humans, can discriminate. As they learn from real-world data, algorithms pick up sexist, racist, and otherwise damaging biases that have long plagued human culture. – NBC News
So what are algorithms exactly and how are they being used to shape our decisions?
Below are some additional articles we found both fascinating and informative on how algorithms are being used and influencing our everyday lives.
No one is original anymore, not even you. If we want to avoid displacing or reassigning our desires and creativity to machines, we can decide to become a little more analog. I imagine a future in which our clothes, music, film, art, books come with stickers like organic farmstand produce: Algorithm Free.
There is an enduring fear in the music industry that artificial intelligence will replace the artists we love, and end creativity as we know it. As ridiculous as this claim may be, its grounded in concrete evidence. Last December, an AI-composed song populated several New Music Friday playlists on Spotify, with full support from Spotify execs.
Researchers followed YouTube’s channel recommendations wherever they led and often found Alex Jones and other fringe channels. “Within the political communities, Alex Jones’ channel is one of the most recommended ones,” they said.
When we look for information on the Internet, buy online or use social networks, we often see ads relating to our likes or profile. To what extent are these ads chosen by the web’s algorithms? A group of researchers are trying to answer this question under the name of ‘MyBubble,’ a science project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and IMDEA Networks Institute.
Now that these issues have surfaced, computer scientists and ethicists are looking for ways to detect and fix algorithmic bias and prevent a future in which minorities continue to be disadvantaged by the spillover of prejudice into artificial intelligence.