How Recommendation Algorithms Run the World

This March, a book that advances an outlandish conspiracy theory—a theory whose name I will not mention—soared in Amazon's sales rankings. The book's rise was helped greatly when the ecommerce giant put the book on its carousel of recommended titles, which is shown to shoppers who aren't searching for that particular book. That fueled more curiosity and sales. Which led to more recommendations. The particular conspiracy theory outlined in this book holds that President Donald Trump pretended to collude with Russia precisely to ensure that he would be investigated, which would give him a chance to secretly collaborate with special prosecutor Robert Mueller to investigate and finally arrest former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who belongs to a global satanic cult …

AI Could Predict Death. But What If the Algorithm Is Biased?

Earlier this month the University of Nottingham published a study in PloSOne about a new artificial intelligence model that uses machine learning to predict the risk of premature death, using banked health data (on age and lifestyle factors) from Brits aged 40 to 69. This study comes months after a joint study between UC San Francisco, Stanford, and Google, which reported results of machine-learning-based data mining of electronic health records to assess the likelihood that a patient would die in hospital. One goal of both studies was to assess how this information might help clinicians decide which patients might most benefit from intervention. The FDA is also looking at how AI will be used in health care and posted a …