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The Internet is experiencing its awkward teen years

If the development of the internet was akin to the personal development of a child, we might be in the awkward teenage years right now. The 90s and early 00s were very toddler-like in ways, with new toys introduced and new concepts that simply modified and expanded previous concepts. Only recently with the prevalence and relative cheapness of machine learning have we entered a different stage.

But we don’t have it right, not yet. Machine learning and AI have a lot of potential, but also offer a lot of risks. I’m not talking about the coming singularity, or robots taking over the world and killing us all (even though they might have a perfectly good reason for doing so).

I’m talking about something a little more benign: personalization (p13n). The way in which social media and a growing number of news/editorial websites want to deliver content they think I would be interested in. Its very difficult to get right, and when we don’t get it right, it can have disastrous consequences, which we have started to feel already.

I have more ideas about this and plan to expand this blog post further. For now, though, this well thought out primer on some of the ideas I’d like to explore is a good piece of reading.