Machine learning is fundamentally conservative, and it hates change. If you start a text message to your partner with “Hey darling,” the next time you start typing a message to them, “Hey” will beget an autosuggestion of “darling” as the next word, even if this time you are announcing a break-up.
This isn’t a new thing and I have to thank Miles who gave me the idea a long time ago to mess with the algorithms every once in a while.
Every once in a while, when I feel the recommendations are getting pretty good I buy something completely different. For example with Google I’ve done some very strange things, but the impact isn’t so clearly felt as with shopping algorithms.
Very cool to see free sanitary products in the @BBC #MediaCityUK toilets (seen in the disabled toilet).
Really helpful for all women including guests and visitors not just staff. @BBCNorthPR https://t.co/H0nfP9kMHc pic.twitter.com/IX11Hhvptw
— Ian Forrester | @firstname.lastname@example.org (@cubicgarden) November 5, 2019
Recently I bought tampons which were 2 for the price of 1 on Tesco online. I bought them because I wanted to screw up the algorithm but more importantly I wanted to support my female colleagues (extra special shout out to Jasmine) who have been fighting the good fight to provide women & girls with free sanitary products in BBC buildings. As they really should have!
Donated sanitary products to @bbc staff in @mediacityuk recently. Bought for a good cause – https://t.co/yLrAWNTjMi but also messed up @tesco's algorithm a little bit.
I was in the disabled loos btw, just in case anybody was wondering! pic.twitter.com/diaz7n4bYn
— Ian Forrester | @email@example.com (@cubicgarden) January 8, 2020
Maybe this is a triple win, one for my colleagues, two for messing up Tesco’s recommendations and three for my pocket? What ever it is, I noticed Tesco recommendation now includes pointers to shampoo products which I certainly don’t need but makes me laugh the algorithm is so easily manipulated.
Already planning similar on Amazon and Ebay…