Are You Leaving Your Algorithms Unsupervised?

Don’t feel so bad, Wall Street does it too

According to Kevin Slavin, Wall Street now employs over 2000 physicists  developing algorithms to help manage stock trades. Slavin fears that we’ve done the math but are now unable to understand it, let alone control it.

Do you think it’s  reasonable to charge $26 million dollars for a paperback book? Probably not, but the algorithms used by Amazon to adjust their prices did when the cost of Peter A. Lawrence’s The Making of a Fly sky rocketed due to competing algorithms. This is just one absurd example brought up in the above  TED talk by Kevin Slavin about  how algorithms created by humans are beginning to take on a life of their own everywhere from web codes to stock trades.

Modern technology has given doctors access to an overwhelmingly large amount of data so naturally hospitals are another place where algorithms are used. The company Predictive Medical Technologies  has developed 5 different tests based on algorithms they claim can predict the 24 hour likelihood of a particular adverse outcome for example, heart attack. While the company accepts that  algorithms are not entirely new to health care , they maintain that their approach is highly novel and that ¨results are a dramatic improvement over anything that has come before¨.

Will algorithms make human decisions more accurate and reliable? Or will we end up relying on the accuracy of algorithms even when they’re calling for multi-million dollar price tags on books?

You can find out more about this topic in an article by the BBC

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