Shoppers with Internet access and a bargain-hunting impulse can find a universe of products at their fingertips. In this thought-provoking exposé, Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stuckeinvite us to take a harder look at today’s app-assisted paradise of digital shopping. While consumers reap many benefits from online purchasing, the sophisticated algorithms and data-crunching that make browsing so convenient are also changing the nature of market competition, and not always for the better.
Computers colluding is one danger. Although long-standing laws prevent companies from fixing prices, data-driven algorithms can now quickly monitor competitors’ prices and adjust their own prices accordingly. So what is seemingly beneficial—increased price transparency—ironically can end up harming consumers. A second danger is behavioral discrimination. Here, companies track and profile consumers to get them to buy goods at the highest price they are willing to pay. The rise of super-platforms and their “frenemy” relationship with independent app developers raises a third danger. By controlling key platforms (such as the operating system of smartphones), data-driven monopolies dictate the flow of personal data and determine who gets to exploit potential buyers.
Virtual Competition raises timely questions. To what extent does the “invisible hand” still hold sway? In markets continually manipulated by bots and algorithms, is competitive pricing an illusion? Can our current laws protect consumers? The changing market reality is already shifting power into the hands of the few. Ezrachi and Stucke explore the resulting risks to competition, our democratic ideals, and our economic and overall well-being.
What is PolitEcho?PolitEcho shows you the political biases of your Facebook friends and news feed. The app assigns each of your friends a score based on our prediction of their political leanings then displays a graph of your friend list. Then it calculates the political bias in the content of your news feed and compares it with the bias of your friends list to highlight possible differences between the two.
- Just, Natascha / Latzer, Michael (2016): Governance by Algorithms: Reality Construction by Algorithmic Selection on the Internet. In: Media, Culture & Society [accepted manuscript, forthcoming online before print]. [pdf]
- Dörr, Konstantin / Hollnbuchner, Katharina (2016): Ethical Challenges of Algorithmic Journalism. In: Digital Journalism [accepted manuscript; forthcoming online before print]. [pdf]
- Latzer, Michael / Hollnbuchner, Katharina / Just, Natascha / Saurwein, Florian (2016): The economics of algorithmic selection on the Internet. In: Bauer, J. and Latzer, M. (Eds), Handbook on the Economics of the Internet. Cheltenham, Northampton: Edward Elgar, 395-425. [pdf]
- Saurwein, Florian / Just, Natascha / Latzer, Michael (2015): Governance of algorithms: options and limitations. In: info, Vol. 17 (6), 35-49. [pdf]
- Dörr, Konstantin (2015): Mapping the field of Algorithmic Journalism. In: Digital Journalism [online before print]. [pdf]
What is algorithmic fairness and why is it important?This site serves to collect articles and research that will help to answer these questions.Our own take on the research questions behind these issues can be found in this paper. More research is collected at fatml.org.
A lot of research has been carried out around using data analysis to identify different aspects of online behavior. Before I detail some of it below, I should add a note of caution: all analytics are only as good as how they are utilized in decision making by end users.The complex interplay between computational tools and human actors in sociotechnical systems (such as online communities) means that great technology and analytics can still fall flat if the community policies aren’t “right”. Engagement e
Beyond IRBs: Ethical Guidelines for Data Research
by Omer Tene and Jules Polonetsky This article focuses specifically on issues related to data-driven research, which is an area where the notion of harm is still hotly debated and both benefit and risk are typically intangible.
Source: Papers | Big Data Ethics
Fusion of Active Information for Next Generation Recommender Systems
The CrowdRec project pursues three objectives:
- Stream Recommendation: real-time combination of information from collection, context, user interaction and user community to generate social smartfeeds for large-scale social networks;
- Crowd Engagement: creating symbiosis between users and content that activates users to contribute;
- Deployment and Validation: developing and testing for release of reference implementations and large-scale user trials.
For the reference framework containing implementations of algorithms that have been developed within the CrowdRec project,
Alison Powell, Assistant Professor at LSE, investigates how data and algorithms effect our daily lives, from negotiating public transport and booking restaurants, to the more serious issues of surv…
The ability to automatically determine personality type could change the way social networks target services to usersOne of the foundations of modern psychology is that human personality can be described in terms of five different forms of behavior. These are: 1. Agreeableness–being helpful, cooperative and sympathetic towards others 2. Conscientiousness–being disciplined, organized and achievement-oriented 3. Extraversion–having a higher degree of sociability, assertiveness and talkativeness 4. Neuroticism–the degree of emotional stability, impulse control and anxiety 5. Openness–having a strong intellectual curiosity and a preference for novelty and varietyPsychologists have spent much time and many years developing tests that can classify people according to these criteria. Today, Shuotian Bai at the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a couple of buddies say they have developed an online version of the test that can determine an individual’s personality traits from their behavior on a social network such as Facebook or Renren, an increasingly popular Chinese competitor.