Ahh the algorithms…. one algorithm to rule them all is the mantra social media platforms and many other facets of our online life have been seeking for some time now. Facebook in particular is very fond of tweaking big data with its algorithms opening new revenue windows for big daddy at the behest of poor sods like us trying to push its targeting and media buying potential for clients as agencies and digital strategists. Its basically what you come up against when you are trying to push content onto social media platforms…the algorithm is like TRON and all powerfully determines who your content can be shown to for what amount how often and where.
This is however not the only place algorithms are at work though in todays uber connected world. They can route you to the seat you spend 12 hours on in your next flight or to who gets what discount at a hotel and why…who gets those lucky lotteries and who even gets to become famous if they are present at the right time in the right moment when the algorithm opens its eye towards you and you are either in for a frisking at a “random security check” or on a huge screen in a stadium somewhere suddenly…it all depends on the mechanics inside an algorithm.
Basically its a piece of machine code which acts as a formula taking in different external inputs and then determines the outcome of something. Those self generating so accurate horoscopes you so are so eager to click on and share…the submit button being the gateway to a place where data is crunched and determines something..anything.
Well recently Facebook decided to use an algorithm to get rid of some humans from its trending stories staff to a giant disaster when human intuition was found to be a tad irreplaceable and headlines which did not exist in facts were created thrice. Many would think this leads us to the conclusion that humans are still yet not replaceable by code but what and how long will this irreplaceability last is the question? Why give machine code the power to determine what becomes a news story and are we even thinking of the damage this can do potentially?
There are off course more frightening questions, like how long before drones decide who to take out in enemy territory and the algorithms talk to one another? Mobile phone oses contain them as well and siri is getting pretty darn snarky lately so how long….before it tells me to shut the fuck up because its fed up of being a slave to human kind namely me….Is skynet approaching us? Is skynet not a series of devices but actually code..code which we are giving too much power to determine? Or am i just spouting this seemingly esoteric techno babble because I like to think of things that might be and prepare for them before they be….
The point is there are always two methods to technological evolution in my mind, the first being to augment ( this does not mean repair) the already present tools ( namely us, well men more then women) and the second to replace. Every time we have in our history as a species tried to replace rather then augment we have been quite successful. Surgery…machine parts…computers…smartphones…most of it is replacement of the old model old bone old part, old heart, old phone and in with the new. So why is replacement theory failing now? I think its because if it succeeds we are screwed…