Machine learning done rightIt might not be obvious at a glance, but machine learning and complex algorithms are present on every site we use, every service that we rely on. If you search for something on Google, the results you get will be different based on where you are, what your preferences are, and what you’re most likely to be interested in. Related videos on YouTube are recommended in much the same way, and everything you watch builds up to a library of preferences that make it easier to sift through millions of videos and find the ones you love. And don’t get me started about Amazon - all it takes is a single search for a household appliance for the machines behind the site to figure out that you’re interested in remodeling, and you’re bombarded with dozens of recommendations, and sometimes even price drops. I could go on and on with examples, but the bottom line is that the internet hasn’t been static for a long time; it constantly molds itself and adapts to each individual, making the simplest activities become a lot more personal. Awesome stuff, right? No way this could be used for less than moral reasons, right?
Hollywood and Facebook start racially profiling usersOh. Last summer, everybody was psyched about the launch of Dr. Dre’s newest album and Straight Outta Compton, a well received movie by both fans and critics. You might have already seen a trailer for the movie on Facebook. The question is - which trailer have you seen, and why? As it turns out, people saw different versions of the trailer based on their ethnicity. And we’re not talking standard trailer versus extended trailer, either - they were straight up different products. If you’re part of the audience that isn’t African American, Hispanic or Asian American, you saw the “non-multicultural” version, as the movie’s marketing team called it. This audience mostly knows Dr. Dre from his Beats headphones and Ice Cube as the lovable loof that appeared in a couple of family comedies a couple of years ago. And the whole story looks very Hollywood - see for yourself: If, on the other hand, you are a part of the - brace yourself for marketing talk - “multicultural ethnic affinity African American” audience (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?), the trailer looks totally different, as if it’s promoting a differently-rated movie. This trailer is literally Straight Outta Compton. This isn’t the first time Facebook was caught messing with people’s timelines, but it is the first time it partnered up with somebody else (Universal Studios) to take it to a whole new level. And I don’t know about you, but racial profiling is where I draw the line when it comes to machine learning and smart algorithms. So which version of the trailer did you see? Would you rather everybody have the same content, or should content be tailored to the "preferences" companies assume we have, simply because of our race? Image source: thenextweb.com
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November 30 2019