Skip to content
Algorithm mystery solved, or is it?
An algorithm is a formula that solves problems: x+y = z. Got it?
No, the formula goes so much further than that. Heaven forbid, it can now be called “a deep, many layered neural network.”
So that’s why Facebook algorithms puzzle us and choose what posts we see.
to psychologist and behavioral scientist Gerd Gigerenzer, if you have a situation that is stable and well defined, then computers can much do better than humans (like playing the time honoured game of chess, for example) – and beat Russian Garry Kasparov and grandmsters like him, the prodigious German author and academic tells the Wall Street Journal.
But if you have a problem that is not stable – for instance, you want to predict a virus, like a coronavirus – then keep your hands off the algorithms dealing with uncertainty.
We humans are mostly stable and predictable outof habit so algorithms can have a field day in the new AI order of the day. They cut swathes through our privacy, often at the the behest those who spy on us in the corporate and security enforcement worlds.
Gigerenzer puts it this way: Think about a coffee house in your hometown that serves free coffee. Everyone goes there because it is free, and all the other coffee houses go bankrupt. So you have no choice anymore, but at least you get your free coffee and enjoy your conversations with your friends. But on the tables are microphones and on the walls are cameras that record everything you say, every word, and to whom, and it is all sent off to be analysed. The coffee house is full of salespeople who interrupt you all the time to offer you personalised products. That is roughly the situation you are in when you are on Facebook … in this coffee house, you aren’t the customer. You are the product. So we want to have a coffee house where we are allowed pay our way again. That should confuse Facebook’s algorithms.
The good prof. concludes that computer algorithms and artificial intelligence are increasingly embedded in our lives, choosing the content we’re shown online, suggesting the music we hear and offering answers to some of our questions at the expense of others. He also says we never read long. deliberately obtuse terms and conditions, safety and privacy advice and cookies policy all the way through before we click on ‘accept.’
From southern Africa, I have shown interest in crime and race issues. Why else would Facebook spoon stuff my way on how there have been 131 mass shootings so far this year in the US (classed as where four people or more have been killed or injured, excluding the shooter) and an American broadcaster has been fired for using the word ‘nizzie’ on air, not knowing it was coined by the rapper musician Snoop Dogg as a replacement for the N-word.
And yet I can’t even find latest posts from my friends. Opening, liking ànd commenting on any post gives food for the malgorithm to feast on, like those mics, videos and salesmen in that free coffee shop.
Mystery solved now?