3 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier about algorithms and the AI industry

Many things look apparent to us, considering we spend most of our time on the internet, whether it’s for fun or work. Still, apparent things don’t seem to reach us, and many times we are surprised when we find out how much the internet knows about us, or rather our phone or our computer. It’s not a living thing, so naturally, it collects data. It doesn’t mean everything you put online is not safe (for example, your credit card info is safe with google or apple), but there are more delicate things when you find out they can be easily shared you feel uncomfortable about. Here are some obvious, yet something we forget or didn’t know about the AI industry, especially algorithms. The influence on our daily lives is much more significant, and maybe after this, you will see how much the digital world is different for each one of us.

The news page is different for everyone

Do you know that even if you live in the same apartment and sit next to each other, your news feed will be completely different from your roommate’s? Why is that? Because of the algorithm and what you search, look and talk about daily. Algorithm’s primary purpose is to make your feed more appealing, tailored to your interests and to keep you longer online ultimately. Yes, internet addiction is real, but isn’t it a logical path since we have distractions every second, even if we only wanted to check the time? Do you know when you find yourself on a completely different spectrum of Youtube three hours later? It’s because the algorithm already knows what you’d like to click next and what will keep your attention. The algorithm isn’t perfect because it can sometimes regularly advertise news that makes you insecure like that ad for losing weight or similar, but maybe it’s also a part of the grand picture.

Data = Profit

How does a Hi-Tech company earn money if, for example, Facebook is free and Instagram as well? By selling your data, of course. Whenever you agree to terms and conditions, you are already used to it, and you know there is no other way around it. But what you tend to forget is that most of your data is sold to third parties who want to target you as their potential clients/audience. They are allowed to know your full name, number, address, what you mostly google and what you like, in essence. That’s how some new names will appear on your feed, that can be useful, and sometimes really annoying. People figured out only a few years ago every picture they post on Instagram can be used for any advertising without any permission because they agreed to it when they signed up for Instagram. Crazy, but true. Facebook turns heaps of money thanks to companies they advertise, and they became primarily focused on how they can attract more clients, even though their purpose is to “connect with people all over the world”. Every company is almost non-existent if they don’t have an Instagram or Facebook page, and the website doesn’t even matter that much anymore. If you aren’t on Facebook, it’s already too much work to look you up.

Google search

Did you know that when you start typing something to search, results that come up below vary from country to country? If you google simple things from “how to ______”, you would be amazed how different results are. It is on one part because of what people in general lookup in your country and weird politics. We won’t get political, but googling about events in a different country will also show different results. You might not be aware right away of what’s going on unless you are on Twitter for example (they use algorithms of course), where it’s a bit easier to find out things that aren’t broadcasted and similar. This is a manipulation of information, and it sounds terrible because it is, but that’s how algorithms and AI industry work.

In Conclusion

Algorithms are not completely bad; otherwise, our feed would overflow with information we don’t want, and we would get tired of continually muting and hiding what we don’t like. There are always two sides of the coin, and we mentioned the “darker side” of it because even if we can’t influence it no matter what, we can be at least educated about it. Pick your websites and know what you give out to people, and what you can still leave for yourself.

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