We get our news and entertainment via media that is enabled to “learn what we like” and bring us a “better” experience . . .
How the hell can an algorithm know what I like and would find interesting when I can’t define that?
Until I was in my early thirties, I’d never gotten dirt under my fingernails. One day, someone introduced me to the incredible – and up to that very second unfathomable – magic of gardening. It has been one of the great joys of my life for thirty years, now, but no algorithm would have brought me to it.
Professional sports were completely off my radar until I watched a baseball game just to impress a guy. Now, I can’t wait for Opening Day! Turns out that I LOVE watching the Washington Nationals even more than that guy (who’s been married to me for almost thirty-two years). Google, you’re smart, but you would not have predicted that for me.
For the first thirty-eight years of my life, I never gave a thought to mental health or learning disability issues . . . and then my two-year-old was diagnosed with mental retardation and autism. Trust me, NO program could have predicted that.
Just this week, I was sure I was about to be bored by an NPR Here and Now interview with Giles Milton, author of the new book Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat. I’m not a history buff, but I was in the car and this was what was available on my (non-streaming) radio, so I listened. It was mesmerizing. I’m grateful to have had that non-personally-curated media experience.
We should be very wary of “advances” in technology that aim to read our minds and just tell us more of what we already know. Look at all the things we could miss out on if we withhold our attention from anything that isn’t already on our minds. Sure, some of what I hear, see, and read is just noise, but there are so many times when I find myself totally enthralled by some story or subject or concept that I’d have never even considered mildly interesting. . . it is well worth occasionally kissing a frog – sometimes, you find a prince.