Just the other day on my morning walk, I noticed a restaurant two blocks away from where I live. It is the only commercial establishment along four consecutive blocks of tree-lined residential streets. I was surprised that I never noticed this restaurant, even though the place has been there an entire year. When I asked the owner why he didn’t do any promotion directly to the neighbors, he shrugged and said people would find it with their phone apps.
I continue to fret about algorithms taking away our ability to discover and create, improvise and fail, learn and innovate. I like to walk down the street and find new places to go. I don’t want my phone to have all the fun.
With all the recommendation programs out there, you can easily get lists of books, movies, and music that the algorithms will say you will like. Netflix uses something called “pragmatic chaos” to determine what we should see. And while the mathematical calculations may choose right answers, what happens to my need to hunt and gather? Isn’t that part of our human destiny?
Epagogix analyzes scripts and estimates (correctly) the potential box office draw for the movie studios.
You can submit your musical composition to MusicXray, which will run it through a set of algorithms and see if there is any hit potential with the song in your head.
One of the most interesting TED Talks features Kevin Slavin, game developer, discussing algorithms and their emergence as a powerful third force in our world. Beyond man and beyond nature, the algorithms are coming and we don’t know what to do with them. Sure, they can help us find restaurants and recommend movies. But they’re defining our culture and our lives in ways we have yet to discover.
Watch it now at kevin_slavin_how_algorithms_shape_our_world.html