Algorithms are everywhere, working silently behind the scenes. Algorithms are impacting our lives every single day and many of us do not even realize it.
They impact the way we carry out our online shopping, our ‘suggested friends’ on social media sites, what adverts follow us around the internet, what order search engines will display relevant results to us, and in many other online ways.
But algorithms also impact our lives offline.
They influence traffic lights and road signage to help improve the flow of traffic. They help forecast the weather, allowing us to better plan ahead. They help match up organ donors with patients desperately seeking transplants. They help airports manage the comings and goings of so many planes more effectively.
They have been used to help companies decide whether they will hire you or not, and they can be used by universities to help diversify each new wave of accepted students. They’ll be used by banks to decide if you’re going to get that new loan or mortgage.
Algorithms really are affecting your life in almost every way you can imagine, soon they will stop influencing aspects of your life, and start controlling them instead.
For example, algorithms are being developed that replace the human aspect of warehouse logistics, driving cars, flying planes, and trading in stocks. Eventually, these algorithms will be widely implemented, significantly reducing the availability of jobs in these areas.
A very good explanation on how algorithms impact your life is a Ted Talk from Kevin Slavin called “How algorithms shape our world” and it has been embedded below:
The downside to algorithms shaping our world
Now that you know a bit more about how algorithms impact your life maybe you’re starting to see them everywhere you look. If you think about it, being everywhere doesn’t just mean they are behind the positives in your life, they’re also behind some of the negative.
With algorithms having such influence on the masses it is inevitable that misuse of these algorithms or flaws in the design of these algorithms can have far-reaching negative consequences.
There are two sides to everything and this article from The New Economy talks about the more troubling side to the influence of algorithms. It’s worth a read for the full picture.