Tagged With algorithms


Tumblr announced today that all adult content would be banned starting from December 17th, a move that has caused many of the site's users to declare its imminent death. The move comes after the Tumblr app was removed from the iOS app store over child pornography concerns, but aside from being frustratingly arbitrary, the site's filtering technology seems to have no idea what adult content actually looks like in a Tumblr post.


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.


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.


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.


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.