Algorithms that govern our lives by Kevin Slavin

Kevin Slavin told us stories and examples of how algorithms affecting not only our lives, but the whole humanity of the world.

The real estate market in Manhattan and other major cities like Tokyo, Frankfurt and London are not controlled by how many people that wants to live and work there. Instead the market and prices are controlled by where the internet cables are. Why? Because it makes the financial algorithms half of a microsec faster and this means a LOT of money.

But it’s not only the financial world that makes the algorithms affecting us. Even DJ:s have started to play music based on sales figures of which artists and tracks people have bought and listened to the most near the clubs. Everything and everyone are affected and in many cases controlled by an algorithm. The world economy and especially the US economy are built up by algorithms that compete to each other every day, every microsec. Which mean that the human common sense are forgotten in everything from wine recommendations (earlier: experts and reviews now: algorithms based on friends and consumption) to which movies we’re seeing (60% of the movies people are watching via Netflix are because their algorithm “cinematon” have recommended them).

To summarize, the algorithms makes the life a lot better and easier but the downside are the complexity that comes with them and maybe also the opportunities for innovation that happens when we change a behavior. When the stock market lost 10% of its value in 5 minutes no one actually knew what happened.

(This is notes from a talk I listened to at the #NEXT11 Conference in Berlin that I visited as official blogger)

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