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We categorize ourselves according to our chosen and or innate identifiers, but when big tech companies do it, and cater to what they have determined we want, we get irritated. Why? Isn’t this what we want? Don’t we want to be catalogued, classified, and commodified?
Identity has been a driving social and political force, and it makes sense that it would now become part of that other great institution of American cultural life: capitalism.
Machine - Learning - Science - Algorithms - Models
Machine learning is the science of using algorithms and statistical models to essentially teach artificial intelligence (AI) to make choices based on predictive data, without further human input, such as using usage history to determine a user’s future preferences, and prioritizing access to those preferences to the exclusion of others. This is how Facebook sorts the posts on a user’s feed, and Amazon selects products a consumer might be interested in, or how Google gives different search information depending on who is signed in to the engine.
At first glance it seems this technique could be objectively applied. If it is designed well, it should be able to both harness a specific user’s preferences and be applied objectively across the user base.
Ourselves - Characteristics - Tribe - Advertisers - Marketers
When we identify ourselves and allow ourselves to be identified, when we tribe up and proclaim the characteristics that are uniform throughout our tribe, we give advertisers and marketers just what they’ve been looking for all these years: groups of conformed individuals to whom they can sell things. The last century proved to marketers and advertisers that they could create products that were geared to be consumed by specific subsets of the population, from fan bases to ethnic groups. The new way to do this is through AI and machine learning algorithms that do more than target individuals who subscribe to group identities—it actually herds us into identities.
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