We know what you like – do you?

It’s been a while since Georgios sent me the link to this interesting “psychogram” of iOS users vs. Android users.

In the first place I thought the really bad thing (but maybe also amusing thing) of this “analysis” is the fact that some sample has been pushed through some multivariate statistical procedure and generated some output – many opportunities for failure and no idea about significance. While this kind of “analysis” (how did you find yourself in the two worlds?) might be somewhat frightening, the real frightening thing is the site, which generated the data.

Hunch.com is a site which gives you automated recommendations about things you (apparently) like, using some “psychogram” questions and sniffing your social network neighborhood. From a statistical or machine learning point of view the task is clear: classification and prediction; from a personal point of view it might feel a bit disconcerting. Each individual, no matter how smart or dumb, is far more nuanced than the few dimensions set up in the model hunch.com might use. In the end, hunch.com does not do this out of pure altruism, they want to sell you stuff you otherwise would not have bought which makes them put us into categories we probably don’t fit into.

Statistics can be of great help in many places, but we should not actively hand over our interests to the results of some data mining algorithm.

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