Algorithms Invading Our Lives

From this Wall Street Journal piece, we learn about the proliferation of algorithms. I am not convinced about algorithms picking out creative works (music hits and potential blockbuster movies), but I found this bit interesting:

Algorithms also have invaded areas of our lives that might seem too personal for mere automation. We are all familiar with the words “this call may be recorded for quality or training purposes.” Though that message may sometimes mean just what it says, it often means that an algorithm has been invited in for a listen.

Using only the words you say in a three-minute conversation, more than five million eavesdropping algorithms, created by a company called Mattersight, determine your personality type, what you want and how you might be most easily and quickly satisfied by the customer-service agent. The electronic psychological analysis divides people into six sorts of personalities. Steve Jobs, for instance, was a “reactions-based” person, someone who responds strongly to things: “I hate that!”

The next time you call, the algorithms, recognizing your phone number, will route you to an agent with a personality similar to your own, which results in calls that are half as long and reach happy resolutions 92% of the time, compared with 47% otherwise, according to an assessment of 1,500 customer service calls at Vodafone, the European telecom company.

What have algorithms done for you lately?

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