Algorithms are nowadays a term that encompasses a completely new meaning, as it shifted from something that can explain any mathematical or computational formula to an exclusive set of data which explains our behavior on the internet.
Basically, from Netflix to Amazon, Facebook and the Google Guru, all tech giants know what you’re into and deliver relevant content directly on the screen of your mobile or desktop gadget. Actually things don’t work so transparently, as they don’t do that to serve your interest but rather to stuff your brain with products they want to sell and persuade you that you actually need them because they’re pretty and you used to watch a video about those, or something related, a while ago. And they kept that in their algorithmic minds.
These know-it-all formulas can go deep into your conscience and your preference base and understand who you might be into, if we’re talking about dating sites, other platforms like Facebook can predict what you are most likely to want to read, based on your likes, shares, hashtags and so on, and Google predicts what is it that you want exactly, provided you type a simple and basic word in the search bar.
A recent research on millennials and the news found that no less than 61% of youngsters on the internet use Facebook as their main news source. This is a giant figure, as no one is keen on discovering something that gets out of their pre-determined preferences range. News feed are algorithmically generated and users are getting only the news that meets their predispositions.
This means that all tech companies can do some basic math and see where you were last week, to calculate where you are most likely to go the next one. But what about unpredictability and the things that take us out of our algorithmically comforted zone, leading us into new realms of discoveries? Well, with the “help” of virtual science, that is no longer something we can aspire to. Everything is predetermined in the virtual information zone.
And this works exactly in the interest of companies that make large amounts of money from advertising, as they can synthetize basic structures of information, predict preference and go on with the sales process that takes long, but bullzeye persuasion efforts. This can practically be defined as manipulation at its finest, performed by the bosses of it all, namely the tech giant companies.
Take this example: today you are looking for David Lynch on Google and the next day you are listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Soon you will start seeing commercials with horror movie video games rolling out from your computer screen. And you will probably receive an e-mail where you will be invited to find out how the Lynch-ian imagination realm has conducted game developers to create some new groundbreaking games that you might be interested in. And next you will see a commercial with those games annoying you before you can start listening to your favorite song on YouTube. This is how algorithms manipulate your preferences. The past working as prologue for your future consumer choices, which completely limits your universe of free will and choice.
Selectivity and polarization are a matter of our present, constructing boundaries and deconstructing the unlimited functioning of our unconstrained minds. News feed curations act to accelerate the limitations of selectivity and algorithms no longer create communities that break through preconceptions. They are the main builders of preconceptions, creating isolation that reinforces them. They teach us how to be lazy and let others think instead of us, they take the guesswork and mystery out of our daily existence, turning us into little robots that eat only what they are fed, without searching alone and discovering new flavors. Life is a road of uncertainties and that’s what makes it satisfying and worth living. A life where everything is already programmed is one that is not worth enjoying, because we are made to live for the unknown, not for a predictable, repeatable and programmed present, with a future left for no surprises whatsoever.
Image Source: moreintelligentlife.com