The master algorithm is going to change life as we know it

It’s safe to say that most of us probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about algorithms. We go to Amazon and notice we have new recommendations based on our previous purchases; we see that Netflix has carefully selected movies based on our past preferences. But we don’t necessarily think about what that means, or what’s going on behind the scenes. We probably think most about algorithms when they go awry, whether that’s yet another Facebook faux pas, a stomach-dropping flash crash on Wall Street, or a online shop selling tasteless T-shirts generated entirely by computers. It’s in those moments that we’re reminded just how much of the world runs on algorithms: the sets of rules, increasingly byzantine and incomprehensible to humans, that govern all the computers around us.…


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