Why Is It So Hard To See What’s Inside The “Black Box” Determining What Prices You Get Online?

You’re a savvy shopper, a well-educated consumer. You know to shop around to look for the best price on something before you fork over your cash. And after doing all your homework, you find out from Facebook that a friend on the other side of the country got the same item from the same website for less than you just paid. Why? How? Because an algorithm decided how much each of you should pay, and there’s nothing you can do about it. [More]


Facebook Fires Humans, Hires Robots To Tell You What’s Hot Today

If you’ve ever looked at the Trending Topics in the top right of your Facebook newsfeed, just to see chatter about some video game character right next to news about a massive natural disaster, you’ve probably thought, “who on earth is deciding what shows up here?” Well, now it’s what, not a who, and it… might still need some refining.


Ian Poley

Amazon To Expand Same-Day Prime Delivery To All Of Boston… Eventually

Free same-day delivery is a nice perk that millions of Amazon Prime customers in and near major cities nationwide have access to. But not all access is created equal, as a recent investigation found out, and the map of who was being excluded has some unpleasant undertones. In Boston at least, the city with the most obvious delivery hole, Amazon is now changing its tune and will expand service to all residents.


Zach Egolf

In 6 Cities, Amazon Same-Day Delivery Available In More White ZIP Codes Than Black Ones

Effective same-day delivery is kind of the holy grail of online retail right now: being able to get your hands on that thing you need right now when you need it is the one advantage brick-and-mortar stores still have, and it’s the one Amazon in particular wants to chip away at. The list of cities where Amazon promises Prime subscribers access to same-day delivery keeps getting longer, but there’s a snag: not all addresses within a city are considered equal, and the pattern to the areas without access looks distressingly familiar.


Algorithms are a vast improvement on this. (Great Beyond)

Future Travel Apps Will Plan Your Road Trip Bathroom Breaks

A three-hour drive is never a three-hour drive, thanks to traffic snarls, pit stops, and weather conditions. While current mapping apps are better able to predict how long it will take us to get somewhere, what if they could also recommend the best time and place for you to stop based on past traffic data? An algorithm from researchers at MIT might help real-life travelers do this. [More]

Predictive Models, Secret Scores: How Computers Decide Who You Are & What To Sell You

(Mike Saechang)

Savvy consumers all know that their lifetime debt history ends up in their credit score, and that lenders use that score to try to predict if someone is a good bet for a big loan like a mortgage. But even the most-connected consumer may not realize how many hundreds of other scores we all now trail in our wakes too, thanks to the advent of big data. Do you know, to the last decimal, how likely are you to buy jewelry? To sign up for cable? To have a kid in the next year? Someone, somewhere, is tallying all of that information about almost everyone. But good luck finding out what’s out there, who’s scoring it, and if your numbers are even actually about you at all.


Google celebrates the big 1-5 with a new algorithm.

Google Launches Huge Overhaul Of Search Algorithm (Which You Probably Didn’t Notice)

Back when the Internet was but a newfangled toy, you might’ve searched for things on Google like, “What is a Google?” But now that searches are more involved (“What is that movie with the guy from that TV show starring Gary Sinise with the talking dolphin and time travel?”) Google says it’s rolled out a massive change in its search algorithm in the last month to handle difficult queries. Not that you necessarily noticed. [More]

Netflix Explains How It Comes Up With Its Recommendations

Netflix Explains How It Comes Up With Its Recommendations

Sometimes Netflix is able to peek deep into your soul and tell you exactly which movies you’ll want to watch next, and other times it suggests Power Rangers Samurai. The company is now offering a behind the curtain to explain how it plays matchmaker with you and all the lonely movies out there.


Now your money can be at work in a different way, helping predict outbreaks as you spend it. Researchers at Northwestern University are testing a new computer modeling program that tracks the flow of dollar bills across the US as a way to predict the spread of swine flu. [New York Times]

Talking About Layoffs May Violate eHarmony's Terms of Service

Talking About Layoffs May Violate eHarmony's Terms of Service

Have your friends been laid off recently? Of course they have, almost nobody has a job anymore! Complaining about society’s newfound poverty, however, is apparently a violation of eHarmony’s terms of service, as the East Village Idiot recently discovered.