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Being Algorithm’d

from Fox News

News Corp. CEO: The Almighty Algorithm – “fake news” and other consequences of Google, Amazon and Facebook’s relentless focus on quantity over quality

By Robert Thomson

Editor’s note: These remarks were delivered by the chief executive officer of News Corporation, Robert Thomson, during London Tech Week on June 14, 2017.

We are here to pay homage to the almighty algorithm.  Algorithmic alchemy is redefining our commercial and social experiences, turning base matter into noble metals. But like the alchemists of old, algorithms are also a charlatan’s charter, allowing claims of pure science when human intervention is clearly doctoring results to suit either commercial imperatives or political agendas.

And there is the enduring contradiction between the claimed sophistication of, say, Google’s ability to target audiences and track tastes for advertisers, and its inability to identify the tasteless, the terroristic, the perverted and the pirated. As the over-alliterative title to this short address suggests, it is profit before provenance and probity. And for journalists, it is penury.

This séance with science is particularly poignant during one of our periodic phases of fascination with AI, artificial intelligence.  When is artificial intelligence merely the artifice of intelligence?  The most telling recent sign of cerebral superiority was Google’s machine-minded triumph in the board game Go over a Chinese grand master.  Chinese call the game weiqi, Japanese call it Go. And so we should turn to the sage Japanese author, Yasunari Kawabata, who presciently wrote The Master of Go sixty-six years ago.  He wrote, ”From the Way of Go, the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled…One conducted the battle only to win, and there was no margin for remembering the dignity and the fragrance of Go as an art.”

[ click to continue reading at Fox ]

Posted on June 15, 2017 by Editor

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