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What algorithms can’t figure out and why

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Jonathan Bartlett

Jonathan Bartlett, Research and Education Director of the Blyth Institute, asks, Who needs wisdom? if We’ve got algorithms! ?

Glow TV show logo.pngIn our increasingly digital society, the algorithm seems set to replace wisdom in human reasoning. While we are seeing some pushback against the movement to “algorithmicize” everything, few lay out explicitly the limitations as well as the benefits of the algorithms increasingly used to make decisions.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the current contentions within Netflix between “the Algorithm” (Netflix’s data-driven decision-making model) and “Hollywood” (the face-to-face deal-making that dominates the movie and TV businesses). For instance, the Algorithm was in favor of canceling the GLOW series, due to the lackluster performance of the comedy featuring women’s wrestling, while the Hollywood side believed that Netflix needed the show to bolster its standing in the cinematic community.

As you can see from the description of the dispute, the Algorithm and Hollywood approached the question from completely different points of view. The Algorithm offered a narrow view (ratings) while Hollywood offered a “big picture” perspective. More.

Who was right?

Maybe, in the run-up to a ridiculously messy and expensive meltdown, someone will come up with as popular song along the lines of:

Algo-RHYTHms, Yes we DO!

We’ve got THEM and so do YOU!

We can hum it during the mop-up operation.

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See also: Also by Jonathan Bartlett: Did AI show that we are a peaceful species triggered by religion? No, but this episode shows how science media sometimes help mislead the public

Self-driving vehicles are just around the corner On the other side of a vast chasm…


Guess what?: You already own a self-driving car. Tech hype hits the stratosphere

News, Algorithms are mechanised, stepwise, cumulative, finite resource driven solutions to more or less well defined problems. They are no better than the underlying facts, assumptions, input data, process logic, biases and general competence of their designers. We need to look behind the curtain and cross examine the wizards. KF kairosfocus

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