Meanderings, Siggy

Algorithms and Machine Learning: Are They Segregating Us?

Recently I watched President Obama on David Letterman’s new show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on NETFLIX.  During the show, the question came up about Democracy. What fascinated me was President Obama’s innovative use of social media during his election campaigns; he essentially pioneered then mobilized the social media platform for political gain.  He later segued into algorithms, which is where my interest perked. 

Algorithm’s were essentially designed by organizations i.e. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc to capture information about the consumer which then creates a digital profile of the individual and the things they are interested in.  If I were an organization that sells merchandise, I would see incredible value in understanding my consumers profile then leveraging that information to reinforce their desire to purchase my product.  As organizations continue to create links to one another, the algorithms continue to refine their digital profile of our tastes in everything.

The account linking/merging and the EVERYTHING piece is quite scary.  For example, if I have a google account but not a Pinterest account.  CaptureI have the option to register a new account or link to another service which has my digital profile already.  If I choose to link the two, the algorithms are most likely working together and sharing more information about me therefore, multiple algorithms are refining their understanding of my interests.

This is where the design and structure of a non-threatening algorithm’s digital profile of a consumer gets weird. Because these algorithms are designed to understand our interests, the likelihood of items that are not interesting to the consumer becomes less likely to appear. What does this mean when this happens?  A consumer is less likely to be exposed to things outside of the algorithms digital profile of you, therefore, it reinforces your interests by exposing you to items that are likely to interest you first.

As we continue to use search engines, our digital profiles continue to be refined and the algorithms use that information to predict what you want to see.  These algorithms can essentially limit our exposure to sites or social media posts that don’t fall within the parameters of your digital profile.  An example would be a search of a news topic that leads an individual to a specific news organizations or videos with a political stance based on the algorithm’s understanding of you.

While it’s an educated guess, I believe that these algorithms have an unintended adverse consequence on our belief systems. Each time we like, share, comment, or hide posts and articles on social media, it reinforces the algorithms understanding of us, therefore, shows items of interest based on our digital profile. I believe this construct has also contributed to groupings of beliefs whether it is a political, religious, social, racial, etc. and it is not good for our society.  Rather than exposing ourselves to new thoughts and ideas, these algorithms contribute to self-reinforcement of our beliefs which then inadvertently causes us to slowly distance ourselves from thoughts and ideas which make us uncomfortable. 

We become comfortable in our bubbles and our exposure to other methods of thinking becomes nearly non-existent.  When people are exposed to the opposite view, meltdowns occur since our ability to consider other views has become irrelevant as a result of the algorithms digital profile.  I believe algorithms have trickled into our society so much so that it has contributed to the segregation of our society and as a result non-likeminded people can no longer value or consider that there are opinions and facts from both ends of the spectrum that can exist simultaneously.  

What do we do?


Finances, Uncategorized

Going Broke Fixing My Car (A/C is out)

If there is one thing that I have learned about fixing car’s is that it can be expensive if you are not mechanically inclined.  I have learned to be self sufficient in many areas because the cost to pay someone else to fix my problems is pricey.  img_3452

The A/C in our 2004 Chevy Tahoe has been on the fritz for about a year ago and I just now had the time to fix it.  I will say that it did work only at high speed only.  Needless to say it gets cold fast and the option of on or off was not fun.

I called a mechanic to get a general sense of the cost to repair my A/C blower and right off the bat he said it’s $100.00 for a diagnostics then more money for the parts and labor.  “Holy hell that’s a lot of money” is what I thought to myself.  I hate the fact that I would have to pay that much for something that I am well equipped to do.

img_3453I ended up doing the work myself for a whopping $26.99 and 1 hour of my time.  In this day in age if you think you are unable to do something on your own, you are living life wrong and you will have to pay as a result.  Granted you are saving yourself some time when you have someone else do the work and that time cost money.

Time is money and in this case, my time saved me several hundred dollars.


Emotions, Humor, Raising Kids

When Your Child Tells You To Deal With It!

Update 0700:  The nuclear option was just initiated. 


I must say, I am impressed with my sons act of defiance of not doing his chore.  I am also impressed with his ability to write such a loving note to me about why the dishes weren’t done. 

Yesterday evening, I had reminded him about the dishes that were still left out from the other night and that he has to take care of them and the response “got it schmot it.”  I take that as an understanding of his task that needs to be done. His dad came to visit for the girls open house and within minutes he was distracted. He was playing outside with his dad and I left it alone.  

By the time he came in, we had to leave for the open house.  I noticed the dishes did not get done and thought, not a super big deal since he can do it when he gets home. When we did get home around 8:45 PM, He chose to go to sleep instead of his chore.  

I again noticed that the dishes weren’t done and I went to his room and reminded him of his chore.  

Me: hey kiddo…Kiddo, you forgot to do the dishes.  You need to get up and take care of it. 

Kiddo:  (dead stare)…..(silence)…..(dead stare)

Me:  kiddo you didn’t do the dishes.  Get up and take care of it.

Kiddo:  (shuffles around) ok….(disbelief look in his face). 

He gets up out of bed and heads to the kitchen and what I hear is the sound of dishes clanking and I think he is doing dishes. 

Fast forward to 3:30 AM.  I’m preparing to leave for work and I stroll into the kitchen to see both sides of the sink packed full of dishes and a note that says “DEAL WITH IT!”


Internal thoughts:  

Option 1: I am going storm into his room and cause a 6.0 earthquake on his bed so he is wide awake then proceed to reprimand him (with colorful language) for this defiant behavior.  NOW YOU WILL DEAL WITH IT.

Option 2:  Take all electronics out of his room including light bulbs and tell him to DEAL WITH IT.

Option 3:  Take everything out of his room except for a chair and leave that in his room and tell him to DEAL WITH IT.

Option 4: a combination of all options and continue to use his own words on him.

Option 5: take the shower knobs off and he can DEAL WITH IT.

Needless to say I chose none of those options ……yet (evil grin).  Instead I chose to goosefrabah the shit out of my emotional state and let mom do her motherly (hopefully ass woopin) duty of love and tenderness.

I will say that I am okay with my kids defending themselves and their beliefs so it becomes a struggle when they disobey me in MY house.  All I think about is action leads to a consequence which draws me back to my limitless options. 

I am interested in hearing from other parents and their struggles they have with their children.  I wanna hear what you do in those moments. 

Podcasts, Uncategorized

Write Like A Motherf*cker

A friend of mine introduced me to Tim Ferris who hosts a Podcast called The Tim Ferris Show.  He hosts some interesting people and the show is “focused on deconstructing world-class performers.”

25893534In this episode he talks with Cheryl Strayed, the author of Brave Enough  and what caught my attention in the podcast was her statement that you should “Write like a Motherf*cker and Mother like a Motherf*cker.”  It’s not often that I hear words like this come out of a podcast and I was immediately drawn to it.

I thought that Heather would like this book so without any review, without seeing the book, without knowing a thing, I bought it.  It arrives Thursday (4/6/2017) and she will get to read it.

You can listen to Tim Ferris’s Podcast with his guest Cheryl Strayed by pressing play below.