This is the second installment of the Living With Data series, exploring encounters with data in our everyday lives.
A few years ago, I gave a talk about how algorithms and social media shape what we know. I focused on the dangers of the “filter bubble” — the personalized universe of information that makes it into our feed — and argued that news-filtering algorithms narrow what we know, surrounding us in information that tends to…
Google is making a rare change to its search algorithm tomorrow—one that has the power to dramatically alter a site’s ranking in Google’s all-important search results. SOUND THE ALARM.
There's a new image algorithm called SparkleVision in town, and yes, it involves glitter. A glitter-coated surface, you see, is really just a plane of many, many tiny mirrors. And a shattered glitter-reflection can indeed be reconstructed into the face of Obama.
Image recognition algorithms are nothing like our eyes, and here is blobby static proof. These images fooled an algorithm into seeing a gorilla, bikini, stopwatch and more—yet they obviously resemble nothing of the sort to human eyes.
One time I drove five hours out of my way on a road trip to Monument Valley, only to be devastated when I arrived. Instead of the bright red buttes I'd envisioned against a clear blue sky, a gray haze had settled into the valley, rendering the landscape flat and lifeless. My photographs could have been saved by a new…
The new film Algorithm tracks the travails of Will, a freelance computer hacker who "breaks into a top-secret government contractor and downloads all their recently developed programs." Like the subjects it tackles, the film has a tech-forward business model that make it more like a startup than a cinematic feature:…
If you think drawing in real life is hard work, just wait until you see how tough it is to create art using Tetris.
When you're flying anywhere you can pretty much turn the whole day into a black hole. The airport/in-flight wifi wasn't working. We sat at the gate for an hour. We were in a holding pattern. It's great. But sometimes, sometimes you actually want to get where you're going.
If you ever wondered how orange juice can always taste so damn perfect every time you have it, it's because of an algorithm. Coca Cola, which makes Simply Orange and Minute Maid, has an algorithm called the "Black Book" which allows it to standardize Mother Nature. It's crazy.
If you think you're your own person, think again. While you have the ability to make what you think seem like independent decisions, the truth is that most of the things you do—from the trains you catch to the food you eat—have been optimized by the world's most pervasive algorithm.
If you think you're good at board games, you just met your match. Because a computer scientist has developed machine learning software that can watch your playing for just two minutes—then comprehensively thrash you.
Sixty years ago, Alan Turing sat down to write a computer algorithm which could play a human at chess. Sadly, he never got to see it running on a computer, but now it's been coded up and who better to pit it against than... Garry Kasparov? Gulp.
Some tastes just go together beautifully: lamb and rosemary, tomato and basil, peanut butter and jelly. But despite a new wave of molecular gastronomy, human imagination can only go so far—which is why scientists are developing computational chemistry techniques to predict the flavor combinations of the future.
Fake online reviews are a pain in the ass: they make interent shopping harder than it already is. But thankfully there are people out there who are developing ways of spotting and blocking rogue five-star reviews, and a new algorithm backed by Google seems to be the most effective yet.
Google knows a thing or two about complex calculations performed across very big data sets. Which is why chemists are borrowing ideas from the search company to help them predict how substances react with each other.
You may have wondered in the past what the funniest video to appear on YouTube is. I bet, whatever criteria you used, you wouldn't choose this one. Which is odd, because according to Google's comedy algorithm, it should have us all in stitches.
In less than a decade, Sudoku has gone from obscure logic puzzle to global phenomenon. Scientists have built up an entire sub-field of mathematics around this game, mostly to answer one question: what's the toughest possible puzzle that's actually solvable?
Don't you hate reading product reviews? You don't know which ones are real and which ones are fake. It's so hard to tell them apart that we need an algorithm to help us says a team of Cornell researchers.
Kevin Slavin gave this fascinating talk at TED about the pervasive nature of computer algorithms in society and the financial markets. It just scratches the surface of what's happening, but it's a must watch if you have 15 minutes today.