11 Points

11 Perfect Pictures of Algorithms Gone Wrong
written by Sam Greenspan

Any company that's bigger than, say, one lonely dude running a blog, automates at least a few things for efficiency. It's just practical. Some algorithms, like Netflix's recommendation engine or Facebook's "we know what you want to read more than you know what you want to read" newsfeed, get lots of attention. Others are far more simple, generating a random phrase here or a suggestion there.

And, invariably, that leads to fantastic missteps.

Here are 11 pictures of computers' recommendations, selections and auto-generated text that didn't quite produce the intended results.
  1. Boarding pass confirmation number.



    Well that's a lovely compliment to pay a lady, but it feels a bit unsavory coming from an airline. You know they're always just trying to butter you up to scam you.

  2. Google suggestion.



    Here's the perfunctory Google search suggestion for this list. Out of the infinite options to choose from, I went with "why is there a dead pakistani on my couch," which has apparently been Googled enough times that their algorithm felt it was a viable suggestion.

  3. A Britney Spears song.



    Well I'm stumped. What's the title?

  4. CVS and Doritos.



    CVS has gone pretty hard on the whole "healthy" thing; they took a big hit in revenue when they stopped selling tobacco. But I'm not sure that gives them free reign to designate everything in their store "for your health."

  5. Facebook CAPTCHA.



    There were lots of screenshots of funny CAPTCHAs to choose from, but something about "gulps wieners" really just appealed to my immature side. It's the use of the word "gulp." It's so vivid and descriptive.

  6. Home Alone.



    I mean, I guarantee that last movie does have more artistic merit than Home Alone 3.

  7. Amazon's recommendation.



    Quite presumptuous by Amazon to assume that (1) because you're buying a PC strategy game, you're Asian (2) as an Asian man, you want to date white women and (3) you'd be willing to spend $18.26 on a physical book with so-so reviews to get advice on how to do so.

  8. Rite Aid.



    Hope you're flexible.

  9. Is that also Pixar?



    So that "Home Alone" flub earlier makes some logical sense. This movie recommendation engine, on the other hand, made an inexplicable leap. Like, this would be like going to a restaurant, asking the waiter for a recommendation on what to order, and him running out the door to go set your car on fire.

  10. In honor of Prince.



    The day Prince died, MTV immediately dropped their plans (I assume a marathon of a show about anywhere from one to many teen moms) and played nothing put Prince videos. Well, except for when their playlist accidentally featured on by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

  11. The Internet has spoken!



    Sure, it's comically bad -- but has an online dating site ever had a more honest moment than this?


This post was originally published on Friday, August 19, 2016 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Web & Tech.

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