Are we being controlled by algorithms?
At its essence, the word algorithm refers to a method or a process. In other words, it describes the steps used to solve a problem. It is also the coding that directs the functioning of a machine or system. Algorithms are used in many areas of life; for example, in education, intelligence gathering, and computer science. However, there are many ethical questions surrounding the use of algorithms. For instance, are we willingly giving up our data to tech companies without knowing what they're doing with it? Is there a possibility that algorithms are controlling our behavior and decisions?
As previously stated, algorithms are designed to gather information and respond accordingly. For instance, Google's autocomplete function uses an algorithm to predict keywords users may type into the search bar. The word predictive refers to the fact IEDs act on information gathered by algorithms. Other examples of how algorithms are being used daily include targeting online advertisements and marketing campaigns. Amazon's algorithm directs products towards its customers based on their previous purchases, as well as what customers have written on product reviews. This leads us to question: are we willingly giving up our data to tech companies without knowing what they're doing with it?
One of the most significant issues surrounding the use of algorithms is that they can be biased and discriminatory. For example, Google's autocomplete function predicts words based on individual users' searches. This can cause a huge amount of negative feelings among users when their search results favor certain words over others. Furthermore, algorithms are sometimes used in unfair ways to oppress and discriminate against certain groups of people- especially ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.
We need to be more aware of how our data is being collected and used. For example, Google collects data from its users through its apps and website. The company uses this data to design its algorithm; this leads us to question: should users consent when their data is collected? Should users be informed when their data is collected? Should the laws surrounding how data is collected be changed? Should we be allowed to opt out of having our data used by tech companies?
Based on previous experiences with algorithms, it's easy to assume they're biased and discriminatory tools that are used to control our behavior and decisions. We need to raise awareness regarding how tech companies use ourdata- which willonly make it easier for them to collect it without our consent. Until we understand how algorithms work and how they affect us, we will have few answers when considering where they will take us next.