Behind the scenes of the power of AI: How can TikTok and other algorithms influence us without us knowing?

There is already ample evidence of the significant power that algorithms can have on our lives. (Photo: 123RF)

GUEST EXPERT. We often talk about these famous algorithms that control the content we encounter on social networks. You only have to buy a pair of boots once to be bombarded with shoe ads for a few weeks.

When we shop on Amazon, it turns out that a third of our decision is due to the algorithms that control this website. What’s even more amazing is that when we choose something on Netflix, over 80% of the decision is not ours.

The philosopher Spinoza believed that free will was an illusion because although we are conscious of our actions, we are not aware of the causes that lead us to make certain decisions more strongly than others. When I think about how algorithms can influence us, I can’t help but agree with his vision.

There is already ample evidence that they can exert considerable power over our lives. For example, let’s mention this new wave of fake influencers, created entirely by AI, who are once again raising concerns about unattainable beauty and lifestyle standards.

Even more worrying is that some models can secretly instill biases in the human mind. For example, speech recognition software trained on a sample of Americans may fail to recognize other accents, actively contributing to the harm suffered by already marginalized groups.

Maybe you’ve heard about the comparison between TikTok’s offering in China and that in the US? Otherwise, tie your hats tight because what I’m about to tell you will curl the hair on your head.

Although TikTok is owned by the same people in both countries, the version offered in China is aimed at children, offering only educational videos and a 40-minute limit per day for those under 14. Have you never heard of these regulations? Normally this version is not available here.

In other words, the Chinese model of this social network is modified according to some rules that disproportionately change the result. In fact, in Canada and the United States, the TikTok algorithm is known for quickly identifying the interests of its users in order to offer them the most personalized content possible. It doesn’t matter what the content is, how old the person watching the video is, or how much time they spend on the app each day.

What difference will this discreet manipulation of the algorithm make in children’s lives? Hold on tight: A survey asked preschoolers what career they would like to pursue when they grow up. In the United States, the most popular response was influencers. However, in China he was an astronaut.

Tyrone Hodgson

Incurable food practitioner. Tv lover. Award-winning social media maven. Internet guru. Travel aficionado.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *