Daily Mirror: When you choose a takeaway over cooking dinner there’s actually a lot of maths involved

I was asked to provide some insight into ‘real world examples of how and where algorithms are used’ by the Daily Mirror. You can read the full article here.

“In today’s world, it is almost impossible to avoid algorithms. Take any streaming service – the next TV show you watch or new artist you listen to will most likely come from a list of suggestions, which is formulated by an algorithm. Using the internet – search engines organise results according to a ranking of what you’re most likely to be interested in, and online adverts try to figure out what you might want to buy based on your browsing history. Data on your tastes and preferences across almost every digital aspect of life are used as an input, and then following a series of rules, an output is generated. These rules could be answers to predetermined questions such as ‘does this person like dance music?’ or ‘does this person exercise often?’, with each answer leading to a different set of possible suggestions.

The more data available about you, the more questions that can be answered and the better job the algorithm will do at providing a suggestion that you will enjoy. The good news is you get to watch TV shows you enjoy, listen to music you love, and buy products that you want. But, the bad news is that individuals can become stereotypes and you can become trapped in an ‘echo-chamber’ lacking any sort of variety or difference in opinion. Given just how engrained algorithms are in today’s society, love them or loathe them, they are very much here to stay.”

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