Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Algos and Data Structures

From the title of this blog, one might wonder if I have something to say along the lines of Nicholas Wirth's famous books Algo and Data Structs. Nope it is about how these compute elements control the digital highways where we arguably spend more time than physical interstate highways.

Imagine on a physical highway, you see a sign which says "All Indians exit here" or if you drive on a street in the restaurant area and only Indian restaurants appear open. It would be illegal wouldn't it? But that is exactly what happens on the digital highways and streets. It does not matter how hard I try to search on popular media platforms, I keep being recommended stuff based on a single factor in my profile. Nationality as deduced by my name.

AI and ML are broad categories of algos that use data (mostly acquired using shady methods) to influence the recommendation engines used on the web. Calling them intelligent is mockery of intelligence. They are codified stereotypes, biases and directed suggestions. Those kinds of algos are good for recognition of something that does not change everyday like your voice and your face, but not for your likes, curiosities and spirit of discovery.

We need these platforms to use data structures that allow end users to load their profile with attached contracts that are enforced. There is no reason why these algos should be allowed to remain opaque. The way they are right now they are in violation of all data privacy laws that come active in 2020.

Happy New Year!

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