Dais ex machina.

It’s gotta be some kind of cognitive bias (don’t ask me which one. I always answer confirmation bias and I’m consistently incorrect. Here’s a list if you’re a super sleuth (or just smarter than me), but I’m seeing algorithms everywhere I go. I don’t know how I feel about it. Obviously in the wake of watching Ex Machina (excellent film) I’m second guessing everything in my vicinity. Given that I’m on the internet, I’m in the worst possible place to trust, well, anything. I’m irritable from work and it’s overclouding my experiences. Let’s have a look.

I only recently discovered the unfollow button on Facebook and it’s changing the way I experience the site. For the better, I hope, but that’s still to be discovered. I know I’m building a tighter bubble around me, but I’m poking and prodding to see what kind of shape the bubble takes before it inevitably pops and everything sucks. At the moment it’s not ideal and I’ve been aggressively trying to pursue a more enjoyable experience. There’s some kind of balance that these algorithms haven’t struck because I’m human, thus irrational. I’m sure they’re trying to appeal to what they presume are my tastes, but those are flippant and subject to mood. Sometimes I enjoy lovely things, at other times I’m misanthropic and just want to see the shit raining down. I’ve been culling as I go. I’ve tried the “see less of x person” option, but it hasn’t really done much of anything. Still I’m greeted by cat pictures, selfies, spiritual fodder and motivational quotes. There’s nothing wrong with this stuff, it’s just that when I’m not in the mood I’m exceptionally not in the mood. This is when I tend to unfollow. I’m sure everyone out there is shouting at their screen as they read. “Why don’t you just fucking unfriend them?” Because they’re still good people and I’d like to have them in my orbit. These things would be fine if their content was in a smaller ratio to the other content I prefer, but the algorithm doesn’t understand that. Is it based on people whose statuses I’ve previously liked? Because that’s only leading me to see content from the same people. Of the 400 or so people I have on there, it probably shows me the posts of 50 or so people max. What happened to the rest of them? Did I have them as friends for too long without liking their output? Because most of them I’ve never seen. Jeez. Like any of this actually matters. Facebook is just another service that delivers us ads, right?

Netflix I’m a little more apprehensive about. I know we’ve just started seeing each other, but I want it to like me so badly. NRE at its finest? I love the service so much and want to build up a complex algorithm that suggests films I’ll love. It’s already suggesting that I watch Nightcrawler, Frank, Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day and Obvious Child. Isn’t that brilliant? At the same time it somehow registered that on this computer, on a different Netflix account we started watching Enchanted. Because of this it keeps suggesting The Princess and the Frog and The Princess Diaries. Somehow it’s not taking into account that we got 20 minutes into Enchanted, I really wasn’t enjoying it and we looked for something else. I even gave the movie a thumbs down and continually award thumbs downs to similar programming, but Netflix hasn’t taken the bait yet. Is this a symptom of me jumping head first into a new relationship before realising it’s gonna take time for Netflix to really get to know me? That’s it. Cool it Leon, you can’t expect Netflix to immediately understand the intricacies of what you actually like. Give it time and it’ll have a carbon copy of your personality archetype, ready to cater to your every taste.

Holy shit, that’s creepy right? We’re feeding so much information into these services for the sake of convenience. I mean, I’m not gonna sit here writing a project where I intentionally divulge intimate personal details and start pointing a finger at the evils of surveillance. Yes, we’re giving so much of ourselves away, yes the singularity is on its way and yes, we’re sowing the seeds of our own destruction.

Still, if Netflix realises that I’m the kind of person who has an impending Air Bud Pawedcast and recommends me animals-imitating-human-activity movies, then isn’t that worth sacrificing all my privacy for?

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2 responses to “Dais ex machina.

  1. FB, where are the rest of your friends. Default shows “top posts”, which I hate. You need to select ” Most Recent” to see them all and in chrono order. And I agree, unfollow was a blessing addition, said “block.”
    Keep hanging in there. Sending virtual hug.

    • Teething problems of an app trying to find the best way of targeting consumers. I use Facebook Purity on desktop to filter a bunch of the annoying features, but it doesn’t help my phone browsing.

      No idea where most of my friends vanished, but I assume it has to do with their ranking algorithm. Pulling ideas out if my are, whose pages/photos have you been viewing? Who’s been viewing yours? Inevitably you primarily visit content of the people who are showing up in your feed, so they’re the ones who continue to show up more often? No idea, but it seems like a problem that only feeds on itself.

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