Question the algorithms

Photo by David Werbrouck

It is a canard to think that math can't fail. All you need to do is look at the way society constructs algorithms – from job and college applications to Facebook feeds to find out that sorting can be wrong and biased.

In the case of the 2016 election, algorithms did more harm than good. Facebook fed the internet silos with fake news. As Cathy O'Neil author of Weapons of Math Destruction puts it in a 99% Invisible podcast: “The internet is a propaganda machine.”

We've adopted the factory mindset of mass-sorting, leaving the anxiety of decision-making up to machines. Humans are pieces of data, waiting to be organized by the least valuable candidate or customer.

There's too many of us and not enough time to make individual considerations. But a conversation around algorithmic frailty might do us some good. Making generalizations impedes the magic of a discovering an outlier.

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Published by Wells Baum

A daily blogger who connects the dots between arts and life.

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  1. Good point. Humans are ultimately behind the curation dictating our perspective. It’s time saved for the user sure but also means we pull the lever down in a ludic loop benefiting their pockets. It’s just important to be aware that it’s happening so we can take back control when we want.

  2. Interesting post. Algorithms are the way of the future and they are not going anywhere anytime soon or perhaps ever. I dont think it is the math that is the problem but the big corporations that are categorizing in that way. Big business is what needs to change.

  3. It’s so frustrating to be force fed the news that someone (or worse yet, some machine) *thinks* I’d be interested in. I’d prefer to make my own decisions, thankyouverymuch. I’m ready for the algorithms to become extinct!

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