Algorithms and Confirmation Bias


It would seem that we live in a world of information overload. I’ll call it: white noise.

To deal with this white noise, we employ – either deliberately or unknowingly – filters to sift through the unending shards of ones and zeroes and set aside the items we want to offer more attention. In a deliberate fashion, we rely upon browser bookmarks & favourites and use our purchase power definitively. In an unwitting fashion we rely upon the aggregators to filter for us and it is HERE where we are most at risk of being directed toward a particular view of the world.

Facebook and Google speak of their “algorithms” – both in an attempt to attribute greatness and demure on accountability. Either way, these algorithms determine “what’s hot and what’s not”, what has a higher priority in search results and which friends I am most interested in reading/seeing. The content of what I see, read and consider is not truly in my own hands. Yes – I once clicked on an article about avocados, it does not mean that I want to read about avocados every day on every page and in every search.

I get it, if it weren’t for these filters, the likelihood of turning “off” rises – otherwise one temps drowning in a sea of noise. However, I do think we would be wise to recognize the dangers associated with what we used to call “Group Think”. Our parents, our teachers, our mentors, our peers – all warned of the dangers of being one of the sheep and spoke of the wonders of charting your own course.

I fear that artificial intelligence is even more dangerous than we first envisioned.



Glen Hartle

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