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Big data’s big disappointment: Why AI personalization is pathetic
May 25, 2016 News

Big data is the next big thing, but so far all it seems to do is deliver marginally better spam. And by “marginally better” I really mean “no different from the spam we got a decade ago.”

Dilbert, not surprisingly, captures this phenomenon superbly well here.

Commenting on this disconnect between the potential and reality of big data, former Facebook executive (and current co-founder at Hadoop vendor Cloudera) Jeff Hammerbacher said, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”

What particularly “sucks” is that these “best minds” don’t seem to be very good at it. Despite hefty investments from tech industry titans, we don’t seem to be getting much closer to an AI-focused future.

You call this personal?

Indeed, anyone wringing their hands at a future of artificial intelligence replacing humans simply needs to look at the ad tech industry. For example, without fail, if I buy a book on Amazon, ads for that book follow me around the web for weeks afterward, inciting me to buy a second or third copy.

It’s pathetic.

Beyond advertising things that I’ve already bought, a quick perusal of the “highly personalized” offers that the best minds have in store for me include: a 2015 GMC Sierra pickup truck (If there is any car on earth I hate with a visceral passion, it’s a pickup truck); a free trial for Audible (to which I’ve been a subscriber for many years); and an Ellie Mae LOS (loan origination system) (I’m not in the market for a loan, and certainly not in the market for software to manage loans for others).

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