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Your life is mapped out for you but, not in the way that you think. How predictive algorithms narrow your perspective – and ultimately your choices.
We live in a world of curation. The internet — aided by algorithms that predict what we search, buy, listen to, read, watch and even who we want to date and marry — expertly helps to us find what we want.
Well, as long as it’s similar to whatever we’ve liked in the past.
And there’s the rub. The ubiquity of incredibly powerful algorithms designed to reinforce our interests also ensures that we see little of what’s new, different and unfamiliar. The very things that are at the heart of learning, understanding and innovation. Rather than taking us out of our comfort zone, the digital revolution is enabling each of us to live happily in our own worlds, and in the process closing down opportunities for originality, spontaneity and learning.
The best part of all: we love it this way.
Google’s search algorithm appears to be systematically promoting information that is either false or slanted with an extreme rightwing bias on subjects as varied as climate change and homosexuality.
Following a recent investigation by the Observer, which found that Google’s search engine prominently suggests neo-Nazi websites and antisemitic writing, the Guardian has uncovered a dozen additional examples of biased search results.
Last month Facebook announced it would join a coalition with Twitter and more than 20 news organizations to tamp down on the proliferation of fake news on the social network. Since that announcement, conspiracy theories and explicitly fake news have continued to slip past Facebook’s algorithm.
Earlier this month the Washington Post caught Facebook promoting satire from an India-based site named “Faking News”. The article joked that Apple CEO Tim Cook had announced the new iPhone 8 “will be something like Aladdin’s lamp. Users will have to scratch the back of the iPhone 8 and Siri will appear before them, in person. It will respond to your commands and do activities that you ask it to do”.
At the bottom of the page is a clear disclaimer that Facebook’s algorithm did not detect: “Content of this website is a work of fiction. Readers are advised not to confuse the ‘news reports’ of Faking News as being genuine and true.”
jamie from Slashdot reports about the Manila Bulletin‘s and ZDNet Asia‘s article on a Pinoy math enthusiast finding a fast way to decode RSA encryption – the most commonly used encryption and authentication algorithm in the world today. As provided by jamie, a cleaned-up transcript of the pinoy: Leo de Velez, and Ron Rivest’s (the “R” in RSA) emailed conversation may be found here, but be warned – it’s quite mathematical. In this transcript, Leo de Velez also mentioned that the Manila Bulletin agreed to wait for more information before printing the article, which Edu Lopez of that newspaper simply failed to do.