Beauty: In The Eye of the Beholder or Algorithms?

Illustration Credit: Frits Ahlefeldt

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What if beauty were filtered by algorithms first? Would beauty still be in the eye of the beholder or the algorithms?

Can algorithms predict your interests better than you?

They can’t, but that’s not stopping Instagram and Twitter from giving algorithms more control over your news feeds and timelines.

The information highway is already heavily filtered by algorithms. Algorithms are tools that help “curate” lots of information. The more you engage with an algorithm, the better it gets at giving you relevant information and hiding the “noise”. In addition, the increase in engagement helps platforms attract more advertising dollars.

Everybody wins, except you.

Follow who you want, but you’ll only see what the algorithm thinks is best for you.

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.

Leaving this decision in the hands of algorithms is a terrible idea. It may gradually develop an idea of what you like, but will it ever understand why? Context is an important area where technology doesn’t outperform human intelligence. Without context, algorithms run the risk of “preaching to the choir” and creating echo chambers instead of extending connections to your interests the way your mind does instantly.

There isn’t a single algorithm that accurately suggests things I like, people I want to follow or conversations I want to catch up on after being away. I find they often interfere with the serendipitous nature of discovering these things and cause me to spend more time searching for what I really want to see.

The only way to fight these changes is to use a third party app for Instagram and Twitter. Facebook and Google+ do have options to view your timeline in chronological order, but they require some effort to find.

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