The Bad Side of Personalisation

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a vast amount of data available on the Internet, a lot of potential information. It is fantastic all the insights we can get from it not only for our businesses, but also for us as consumers, as users of Internet.

Lately, when you look for something on  Google, as it is getting ‘wiser’ and better at guessing  what you aim for,  you are just presented quicker with the right information, and this is super,  isn’t it?   Also, if you have a new hobby, and you are being targeted by ads related to it, well… even though it may not be good for your wallet, I’m sure you will be enjoying your newly bought gadgets.   All applications are trying to ‘personalise’ their interactions, to be more specific in order to get your attention.

As always, good things can have a drawback side.  When you search on a subject and the results that are shown to you are the ones that better match your centers of interest, then, you are left out of other diverse information on the subject.  Yes, you may say this ‘other’ results are surely there if you scroll for it… on the third page maybe?  But who looks even to the second page of results nowadays?

So, on the one hand, results match potentially what we are looking for, but on the other hand, we are not being shown the ‘other side’ of the world.  We are not being presented with other points of view.   And this is critical. I loved this TED talk by Jonathan Haidt about The moral roots of liberals and conservatives that makes a clear case of this point.  Diversity is a good thing, and has to be promoted, not making its access more difficult.

 Knowing this, the best we can do about it, for the sake of humanity, is to draw the attention of apps designers so that they think of a way to balance their algorithms to avoid this pervert effect of personalization.  Spread the word!



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