Algorithms increasingly control our lives; is that a good thing?

Read this article; it’s important.  We’ve discussed this topic before.

Social media, e-commerce, and entertainment sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, gmail/Microsoft, Instagram, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) increasingly make decisions for us–what news we see and pay attention to, which people we communicate with, what products we are likely to buy, which movies we watch, who we date, who we marry, how we respond to email, what we eat, etc., etc.

Is this good?  Or, is this bad?

“Internet companies will tell you it’s a good thing; algorithms can apply data and process-learning to help us make better decisions and optimize every aspect of our lives.”

“Skeptics will point out that those algorithms are designed by corporations to serve their interests, not yours.”

How much power and control over our daily lives have we already surrendered to algorithms?  How much more are we willing to give up?

Take this paragraph to heart–“it’s telling that companies like Facebook are only beginning to understand, much less manage, any harm caused by their decision to divert an ever-growing share of human social relations through algorithms.  Whether they set out to or not, these companies are conducting what is arguably the largest social re-engineering experiment in human history and no one has the slightest clue what the consequences are.”

Remember, you can still make your own decisions.  You can choose whether or not to use social media, e-commerce, etc. and, if you do, you can choose how and how much you will use it.  That’s the crux.  Make choices based on real knowledge and understanding–not out of fear or inertia.  Your life and our society is not a spectator sport.

(Amanda Taub and Max Fisher, New York Times, September 6, 2018).

For more information about the impacts of social media, search the Science Primary Literature Database and the Headline Science Database.

 

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