How Big a Problem is This? The Hidden Codes That Are Controlling Our Lives

By Jeff Bullas

geralt / Pixabay

There are hidden codes that we don’t notice. They make life easy. Built into the platforms and apps that control our lives. Working away in the background.

Invisible tech has become so embedded in our lives that we take it for granted. Don’t see their footprints.

They are the mathematical instructions for solving problems or performing a task in the codes of software. Their name? Algorithms.

We perform searches, check out our Facebook stream and watch YouTube videos without much conscious thought to what is happening behind the scenes or how that content showed up.

Cars are summoned to our front door with an app. Certain friends updates show up in your Facebook stream. Books are recommended for you.

What are algorithms?

In the past it was only ever discussed in maths classes and lectures. The rise of software and use of technology has brought it more into public consciousness and widespread use.

But we hardly notice them, but what are they?

According to Pewinternet.orgAlgorithms are instructions for solving a problem or completing a task. Recipes are algorithms, as are math equations. Computer code is algorithmic. The internet runs on algorithms

They are the lines of mathematical code that can be your servant….or master.

The rise and rise of algorithms

The beauty at the the birth of social media networks was their simplicity. They flowed past you unfiltered.

Twitter was a distilled stream of unfettered consciousness. Facebook was a flowing page of diverse ideas and people and some sat outside your tent of ideas and interests.

But things have changed.

The need to make money from the platforms meant that algorithms needed to be programmed. To reduce the organic reach that excited marketers, writers and entrepreneurs. As marketers reaching your target audience now means you need to understand how they work and pay to use them.

They are required to make sense of the huge amount of data the the digital world serves up every day. But they are meant to be working for us and “user experience” is now the Google mantra for its search algorithms.

Today marketing mastery has become an art and science and an ongoing battle of the algorithms.

Tim O’Reilly in his latest book “WTF? What’s The Future and Why It’s Up to Us” uses the analogy of the myths of the Arabian Djiins. They can be coerced into fulfilling our wishes but often artfully reinterpret the the wish for their masters maximum disadvantage.

So….are the current algorithms serving us or denying humanity.

The answer is yes to both.

Why do we need algorithms?

The amount of data the average human is confronted with every day means that algorithms make it easier to find what we want. To put some perspective on the volumes we only need to look at some of the facts about social media, data creation and the size of the global Internet.

In 2017 these are some of the data numbers according to