Monday, 26 February 2018

On-line prices based on customers’ habits, Big Data and algorithms

When you buy an airplane ticket or a DVD online, you may pay a higher -- or lower -- price than another customer buying the very same item from the very same site.Why? Because the information the site has compiled on you suggests that you may be willing to pay more -- or less -- than others for that item. Is this kind of "price customization" legal? The Internet allows shoppers to easily compare prices across thousands of stores. But it also enables businesses to collect detailed information about a customer's purchasing history, preferences, and financial resources -- and to set prices accordingly. More here.

Weapons of Math Destruction: A fascinating, timely, book by Cathy O’Neil

Weapons of math destruction, are mathematical models or algorithms that claim to quantify important traits: teacher quality, recidivism risk, creditworthiness but have harmful outcomes and often reinforce inequality, keeping the poor poor and the rich rich. They have three things in common: opacity, scale, and damage. They are often proprietary or otherwise shielded from prying eyes, so they have the effect of being a black box. They affect large numbers of people, increasing the chances that they get it wrong for some of them. And they have a negative effect on people, perhaps by encoding racism or other biases into an algorithm or enabling predatory companies to advertise selectively to vulnerable people, or even by causing a global financial crisis. But as the book suggest the mathematics of big data increases inequality and threatens democracy.  More here and at

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Media: the least trusted institution globally, according to a new study

For the first time media is the least trusted institution globally. In 22 of the 28 markets surveyed it is now distrusted. The demise of confidence in the Fourth Estate is driven primarily by a significant drop in trust in platforms, notably search engines and social media. Sixty-three percent of respondents say they do not know how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods or if a piece of news was produced by a respected media organization. The lack of faith in media has also led to an inability to identify the truth (59 percent), trust government leaders (56 percent) and trust business (42 percent). For more see Edelman TrustBarometer .