Tagged With algorithms

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A little under five years ago, I got angry about a piece of fake information, and I decided to do something about it. I was reading a recipe in the New York Times, and the recipe told me, as many, many recipes had told me before, that it would take about 10 minutes of cooking to caramelise onions.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Big data gets a lot of attention from media, industry and government. Companies and labs generate massive amounts of data associated with everything from weather to cell phone usage to medical records, and each data set may involve hundreds of variables. How does one begin to make sense of it all? The answer lies in "rubber sheet" geometry.

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Facebook's news feed is probably the most-used feature of the social network. It organises posts, photos, links and advertisements from your friends and the pages you follow into a single stream of news. But lately we've seen the news feed making headlines of its own.

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The world is certainly not short of pundits claiming to have a grasp on where the economy is heading or what the future holds for Ukraine. But history reminds us how poor humans are at making predictions in complex situations. Could a fully automated algorithm beat the predictions of these pundits? Not yet. But history also has a way of vindicating the power of algorithms over human judgement.