August 28, 2011

New kid in town


Are computers becoming smarter than us?

Algorithm expert Kevin Slavin delivered one of the most "sit up and take notice" speeches at this year's TEDGlobal conference. He warned that the "maths that computers use to decide stuff" was infiltrating every aspect of our lives.

 Algorithms are subtly taking control of our everyday living through web codes. From the web retailers - calculating what books and films we might be interested in, to Facebook's friend finding and image tagging services, to the search engines that guide us around the net and even the online trading algorithms that are increasingly controlling Wall Street.

Algorithms have also made mistakes however, shown when a book was priced incorrectly at Amazon.com because of the logic in it's coding. I'm pretty sure a text book on the molecular biology of flies isn't worth $23.6 million.

This highlights the idea that algorithms are like small children: they can bring about chaos when they become smart enough to operate without parental, or in this case human, intervention.

Too-smart-for-their-own-good children running the world is a scary thought.

Bit of nerd talk but interesting none the less. Read more here.

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