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Algorithms Are Watching

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Watching eyes.

As algorithms become more sophisticated, their influence over people's lives increases exponentially, according to researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Credit: Dawnde

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers are conducting research involving the use of algorithms in data mining and the analysis of social networks to study how information moves within large social graphs.

"In every aspect of life, as long as an area generates data, an algorithm is required," says UCSB professor Xifeng Yan. Although classical algorithms have not fundamentally changed in the last 20 years, UCSB professor Ben Zhao says the way they are applied has changed. "Today, folks are much more interested in whether algorithms can lend themselves to parallel processing on an extremely large scale," Zhao says.

The researchers note that as algorithms become more sophisticated, their influence over people's lives increases exponentially. They want to understand how much this impacts users and to what extent data tracking influences what can be seen on a daily basis. Many algorithms try to mimic the human learning process, and in certain circumstances they operate more efficiently and effectively.

"For simple rule-based tasks, algorithms can outdo humans anytime, partly because they can compute and access massive quantities of data quickly," says UCSB professor Subhash Suri. He says algorithms also can be used in medicine, as they could be implemented in a way similar to the recommendation systems used by online merchants.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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