Tag: algorithms

Books Productivity & Work Tech

What do we read next?

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We suffer from the infinity of choice, to what type of books we're interested in, all the way down to the format we want to read them in.

Amazon's recommended book algorithms allay the frustration of making decisions by taking into account your past reads and what others have read to suggest what to consume next.

Algorithms (or recipes) therefore resolve two things: Indecision fatigue caused by the avalanche of choice and the wisdom of crowds.

Spotify Discover Weekly works the same way — after it gets to understand your habits and preferences it recommends prebuilt playlists to appease your taste.

Algorithms free up our brain space to do rather than toggle between the options. They are the antidote to the chaotic linear 21st-century feed.

The more time we spend consuming rather than selecting what's next is time well spent. By outsourcing our digging, we create more time to learn.

Even the proactive tastemaker must yield to the occasional “if and then” statement to build on top of the symphony of algorithms. A remix is not always artistically lesser than its origins.

In an increasingly algorithmic world, there can still be an element of human touch to prove we're not headed toward complete thoughtlessness after all.

Politics & Society Tech

Punching back against nihilism

It’s not a matter of if we combat the firepower of irreality, but a matter of when. But then it might be too late to punch back. #gif

The brain is stuck on hype rather than facts and figures. It devours the external stimuli of incessant feeds and 24/7 news and predictably shuns the details.

If we want to overthrow the swathe of nihilism, then we need to create a system that supports credibility. The algorithm failed to do it. Pre-programmed maths exposed the human biases and fragility.

It’s not a matter of combatting the firepower of irreality but how well we can protect against its ailments. Keep in in mind that it might be too late to punch back.

art via giphy

Tech Video

The truth about algorithms

Mathematician Cathy O'Neil explains why algorithms are programmed and curated with bias. She is the author of Weapons of Math Destruction (Amazon) and runs ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing firm.

An algorithm is an opinion embedded in math.

Cathy O’Neil
Science Tech

Dancing with the algorithms

Dancing with the algorithms, yielding results random but time-saving. How else are we to discover all these gems in a sea of content?

From Spotify to Gmail, we accept the recommendations to curate and speak for us. Playlists generate themselves, email answers itself.

Predictive life is human, stung with errors.

The computers and their code are often over their heads, impractical and sometimes stupid.

But in combination with human neurons, the computer gets closer to the truth: that we just need help deciding.

What appears random at first is the marriage of a happy accident.

Culture

How algorithms destroy personal taste

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Me?

Taste comes from an amalgamation of sources. It assumes that we've dabbled in both good and bad, and actively seek to find new things to recommend.

But in this algorithmic world, taste gets delivered. Whether it's the next Spotify song or someone to follow on Instagram, we adhere to the machine rather than following our own interests.

Algorithms may save you time but they inhibit the authentic discovery process of sampling. Should we choose to navigate on the basis of originality, we are all well-equipped with own unique perspectives and taste buds.

Say it with me: I enjoy what I enjoy regardless of its potential for receiving likes, going viral, or being found acceptable by an algorithm.

Say it with me: I also do not deny that I am implicated, inexorably, in the Generic Style of my time.

Read Have Algorithms Destroyed Personal Taste?

Social Media Tech

ORCAA, a logo to certify organic algorithms

Her latest project ORCAA, O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing, offers services to companies that promise to maintain a more honest algorithm that unlike Facebook, doesn't sacrifice private data to maximize revenue.

“The internet is a propaganda machine,” writes author Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction where she criticizes the algorithms which have come to disrupt society and politics.

Her latest project ORCAA, O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing, offers services to companies that promise to maintain a more honest algorithm that unlike Facebook, doesn't sacrifice private data to maximize revenue.

“People don’t really check that things are working,” she tell Fast Company. “They don’t even know how to ask the question.”

For the logo, Cathy O’Neil requested the designer Katie Falkenberg make it look “fat and fierce.” I think they just about nailed it.

Right now, the seal is a simple ring design with ORCAA’s killer whale logo and text that reads, “Algorithm audited for accuracy, bias, and fairness,” with the date. Falkenberg hopes to one day update it so it gets timestamped from the date it’s uploaded to a company’s website. Because algorithms are constantly changing, Falkenberg wants the seal to let users know when an algorithm was last certified. O’Neil says algorithms should be regularly audited–perhaps once every two years or so, depending on the complexity of the code. Falkenberg also hopes to link the seal to O’Neil’s website so users can understand exactly what it means when they see it.