File this one under, ‘this should not have surprised me, but sorta did’.
Should have seen this coming a mile off, but wow, not only did it surprise me, but it really creeped me out.
Let me say up front, I have never been much of a Facebook user. It has confused me from the day I joined up. Never really made peace with it.
Been trying to post some photos to it the past 2 weeks. My first posts in years. Before this, I would check my feed probably once or twice a month.
In other words, I hardly use it.
So, why the creepy surprise?
A leaked internal document shows that Facebook is capable of identifying people according to their emotional state. The document, seen by The Australian, shows how the social network can monitor users’ posts and determine when they are feeling “stressed, defeated, overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, stupid, silly, useless, or a failure.”
The leak pertains to Facebook’s Australian office and suggests that algorithms can be used to detect “moments when young people need a confidence boost.” It raises serious ethical questions about Facebook’s capabilities, but the company denies it is doing anything wrong.
With all that I have blogged about AI and such, it really should not have come as a surprise to me that Facebook was machine analyzing every post by every user and coming up with a metric for each user. But it did.
Its pretty sicking.
The hint is that Facebook then uses this information to target advertising to its users.
I guess the short version is that we should not be surprised about what our online activities are getting used for these days.
One that jumps to mind is gmail. They are up front in saying that they read every single email to deliver better ads for us. That’s the price you pay for free email. I’m now thinking that it would just be a slight of hand for Google to say, well, we have to read the email to figure out what ad to show, so may as well read his email and figure out what sort of mood he is in.
What about WordPress blogs. There are millions of blogs hosted in their cloud, it would be trivial to feed an AI with the wordage from each blogger and come to all sorts of conclusions.
Boggles the mind.
In other related news. Just got off the call with the IBM Watson guys about getting our hardware to talk to their machine learning algorithms… Wonder if I can tweak it to figure out the mood of an air compressor or refrigeration unit?