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Thread: the algorithm

  1. #1
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    Default the algorithm

    this is the most succinct explanation of how social media platforms inflame your emotions and exacerbate the political divides between us that i have ever come across

    https://www.npr.org/2022/09/06/11213...-of-its-design

    NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to Max Fisher, author of The Chaos Machine, about how social media companies leverage content that elicits anger and outrage to keep users engaged on their platforms.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    I was listening to that today. Spooky stuff. I think the Youtube algorithm is pretty dumb. It keeps showing me more of the same.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    I have such promiscuous curiosity that my multifarious google searches drive the algorithm batsht.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Yes, good summary.
    David G
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    I think it's simpler than that. The algorithm is dumb. It simply gives you more of what you click on. If I listen to Kate Rusby, if I click on 'like' for 'Halt The Wagons', YouTube gives me more Kate Rusby, other singers who are sort of similar, more folks from Yorkshire, even more coal mining disaster songs. If look at a video for how to install a trailer hitch on a Toyota Camry, for a couple of days it will give me more trailer hitch installation videos, until it figures out I don't click on them. If I click 'like' on Heather Cox Richardson's political commentary, Facebook keeps giving me her stuff. If I watched inflammatory crap of whatever political stripe, I would get more of that.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 09-07-2022 at 11:28 AM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

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    Default Re: the algorithm

    So... An industrious type might hire a bunch of, say, goofy kids to google up some bizarrely unrelated but happy stuff, confuse the bejeebers out of the simple-minded algorhythm and 'groom' a better one, more sophisticated, and less likely to be devious or evil. What about programming and time-sharing computing time to randomly generate antonyms and rhymes for key words and cut it off at the legs. Yo ho, yo ho, it's a pirates life for me. See wenches in your neigbhorhood, Jolly Rogers.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    No, I think it's stupid, but personalized. It remembers what you looked at, and gives you things like it. I don't think you can much affect what it gives other people.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  8. #8
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    I think Jim meant having some kids do random searches on his confuser.

    I kinda like the random idea.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  9. #9
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    I often find that I get ads for an item I have just purchased. That seems a little TUTB.
    What does the algorithm make of the 'puters in public libraries?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by David W Pratt View Post
    What does the algorithm make of the 'puters in public libraries?
    That would be very interesting to know. I bet there is quite some similarity between the profiles of different users in a public library. Would most of them have computers at home?
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    The idea that Facebook and twitter is the same as YouTube is just wrong! I get almost no political content from YouTube, just more Stumpy Nubs. I am looking at what it is feeding now, the most "emotionally compelling" thing I see is Colin Knecht's 'Stupid Ideas'. He calls out what he thinks are stupid ideas in woodworking, kinda of boring more than anything else.

    People have the ability to detach themselves from the input around them. I am not, and have never been "emotionally attached to mask wearing"! I don't care, I can wear one or not, it does not impose on me or my abilities at all. Don't care what others do. Don't care what they want me to do.

    I think also an author like this needs to distinguish the difference between the platform provider and the advertisers, no platform seem to be able to stand up to their real customers and say NO.

    Sometimes, many times all I need to do is turn it off and walk away.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    I don't use Social Media and used to dip into Youtube rarely.
    Youtube was a bit of a pandora's box - there could be anything there.

    Then i find i'm watching it a bit more - and suddenly i have about three things on offer in various forms. It makes you think the entire world is watching what you are watching, or doing it. There's simply no doubt, the world just loves traditional Japanese carpentry joins!!

    If you are curious about say white people becoming a minority, and you love to be agreed with, you're toast. The world very quickly will look just like your worst nightmare.
    It's all fun and games until Darth Vader comes.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    "I think it's simpler than that. The algorithm is dumb."

    So are a hell of a lot of users Keith. The setup relies on that and It shows.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Working in publishing I can claim both some knowledge and blame. Keith has it, pretty much. When you are looking at hundreds of thousands or millions or tens of millions of people a small percentage acting on a served message can pay off.

    More detailed and finely targeted marketing is possible, once you sign up, click on or opt in for an email or other promotion. Watch a livestream and you'll likely get an email and some very specific ads served to you for a day.

    To Jim's comment about gaming the system: the various software that everyone uses readily detects who is clicking/ visting/viewing; i.e, what computer, or device, at what location, through what internet service provider at what time, for how long, etc. It readily filters for and reports multiple clicks. Certainly, people are out there working to beat such safeguards, while at the same time, others are working to thwart such attempts. ( Often an organization is working both sides of this!) It's like an arms race and this is one reason updates are required so often. I am sure Garrett might be able to speak more intelligently than I about this aspect of the topic.

    kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    So are a hell of a lot of users Keith. (dumb) The setup relies on that and It shows.
    Some are, but the system doesn't necessarily rely on it; as far as I can tell, it just gives me more things like what I've already looked at. If I watch a video of the Young'uns at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, I get more of their songs and more performances from Shrewsbury. If I click on an ad for a clever gadget to sharpen knives, I get more ads for knives and knife sharpeners. If I regularly read Heather Cox Richardson, her stuff keeps showing up. If I listen to an angry rant about Jesus and how liberals are destroying our traditional values, I'll get more angry rants.

    There are several unintended effects - well, maybe not entirely unintended, but the entire point of the algorithm is to simply get you to watch stuff, and it doesn't care in the least what that stuff is. It does tend to reinforce your existing opinions and prejudices by giving you more of what you already watch. My algorithm doesn't suggest a thoughtful conservative commentator disagreeing respectfully with some of the points Ms Richardson makes, any more than it suggests reggae tracks or bonsai demonstrations. If a guy regularly looks at One America News, the algorithm will certainly not suggest an NPR segment or a Factcheck.org page showing conclusively that what he just watched was total bullsh!t. And some people are vulnerable to clickbait escalation; the algorithm gives them a range of similar things, and they pick the more extreme, angrier, more fear-inducing, whatever - but farther out, and then the algorithm gives them more of it, and they escalate again. I tend to be allergic to such things and react by blocking them, but many folks don't.

    And then, of course, it sometimes does utterly random things. I pretty regularly read Steve Benen's articles on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC site, and it usually gives me ads for an outfit called 'Zolucky' that sells trendy, somewhat flashy young women's clothing, pleasant enough to look at since the models are, well, models, but nothing I'm ever going to spend money on.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 09-08-2022 at 07:57 AM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  16. #16
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    "There are several unintended effects"
    We were looking for lightweight narrow fitting workboots for her, and along the way saw other shoes she liked.
    For about a month I was bombarded with ads for women's shoes, bags, dresses etc.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Yeah, but that's not an unintended effect; it's exactly what the thing's designed to do. 'Aha! Somebody looking for women's boots and shoes! OK, we'll give them more, and try women's clothes to see if they might like that.' It has no way of telling who's looking at the screen, not yet, anyway.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  18. #18
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    If a guy regularly looks at One America News, the algorithm will certainly not suggest an NPR segment or a Factcheck.org page showing conclusively that what he just watched was total bullsh!t.
    So then, here's a plan: we make it a meme for everyone with a brain and some energy to do exactly that. click on OAN or breitbart or fox or (gag me) trthsocial, and then click an equal number of times on NPR, PBS, BBC, NYT and WaPo. Make it a challenge and offer a mysterious prize. Show a bunch of 4 and 8 chan cucks getting smoked by girlscouts. And we'll prolly have to buy some Zolucky stuff just to keep the algorhythm guessing. By 'smoked' I mean bested intellectually, not killed or anything sexual. That would be dangerous and perverse, and this isn't ironic or meant with a wink and nod.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    As amusing as that might be (well, for ten minutes) it will have zero effect on what anyone else sees. The entire point of the algorithm is to adjust what shows up according to your individual preferences, inferred from your browsing history. I don't want OAN showing up on my computer, thank you very much; I already take pills for my blood pressure.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 09-08-2022 at 09:13 AM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  20. #20
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    back to the op.. anyone else catch the subtle untruth in the title?

    "it's a byproduct of its design"

    that's no byproduct (as the article observes).. and from some short while ago -

    "www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufekci_we_re_building_a_dystopia_just_to_m ake_people_click_on_ads"

  21. #21
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    We don't need no stinkin' algorithms to enflame emotions and boost BP here on the WBF.

    We've got armies of cats posting provocative thread titles and expressing opinions counter to fluctuating majorities and minorities of the folks here at any given time of the day or night.

    The proof of that anger and enflamed emotions is in the ever revolving Banned Camp roll calls.
    "Unrepentant Reprobate"
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by Durnik View Post
    Back to the op.. anyone else catch the subtle untruth in the title? "It's a byproduct of its design." That's no byproduct (as the article observes).
    No. It is most certainly a byproduct; there's zero intent to do anything but get people to click on internet stuff, and the algorithm doesn't care in the least whether it's ads for vacation rentals, videos about how to unclog your drain, or hate-filled rants about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. You simply get more of what you looked at already. That can be bad enough.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  23. #23
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    No. It is most certainly a byproduct; there's zero intent to do anything but get people to click on internet stuff, and the algorithm doesn't care in the least whether it's ads for vacation rentals, videos about how to unclog your drain, or hate-filled rants about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. You simply get more of what you looked at already. That can be bad enough.
    you seem to be saying that the claims by the author in the op are false

    the author claims that most social media algorithms including google and facebook don't just lead you along to content or individuals similar to your own postings or what you search for specifically, but they shade it a bit so that you end up with results that are slightly controversial or edgy to keep your attention focused, to make you dig deeper
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Read Stolen Focus by Johann Hari
    "Congress doesn't regulate Wall Street, Wall Street regulates Congress."

    MAKE WAY! MAKE WAY! "I have heard of some kind of men that put quarrels purposely on others."

    As a general rule, the better it felt when you said it, the more trouble it's going to get you into.

    International Financial Conspirator, Collaborator, Gun Runner, Ace Philosopher-King and all-around smartie pants

  25. #25
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    You seem to be saying that the claims by the author in the op are false.
    Yes, or at least not well-supported. I think the evidence he presents for the algorithm deliberately getting more extreme is very thin at best, nearly nonexistent. I'd argue that a dumb algorithm presents a range of things sort of like what we clicked on before. If you then click on the more extreme (alarming, controversial, loudest, angriest, whatever), then it will give you a range centered on your average viewing. You can edge over into madness pretty quickly if you want, or not, depending on what you click on - but that can happen with a totally dumb unbiased algorithm.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 09-08-2022 at 04:01 PM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  26. #26
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    As amusing as that might be (well, for ten minutes) it will have zero effect on what anyone else sees. The entire point of the algorithm is to adjust what shows up according to your individual preferences, inferred from your browsing history.
    It is perhaps a bit more expansive than that. You may also see stuff that users with a browsing history like yours see.
    Life is complex.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    People believe what they want to believe.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I think it's simpler than that. The algorithm is dumb. It simply gives you more of what you click on. If I listen to Kate Rusby, if I click on 'like' for 'Halt The Wagons', YouTube gives me more Kate Rusby, other singers who are sort of similar, more folks from Yorkshire, even more coal mining disaster songs. If look at a video for how to install a trailer hitch on a Toyota Camry, for a couple of days it will give me more trailer hitch installation videos, until it figures out I don't click on them. If I click 'like' on Heather Cox Richardson's political commentary, Facebook keeps giving me her stuff. If I watched inflammatory crap of whatever political stripe, I would get more of that.
    I agree with this. It just gives us what we want. It's horribly destructive, puts everyone in an echo chamber. I go out if my way to follow and pay attention to people across the spectrum of my interests. I have actually learned a bit about internicine arguments going on in many protestant circles. My goal is always to defeat the algorithm.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    My goal is always to defeat the algorithm.
    keep coming back
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: the algorithm

    “Find algorithm defeating milfs in your area.”


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