Folks, pay very close attention to what I am about to say next: I am a time-traveler! And no, I have not been officially declared a lunatic yet although some of you sure thought so, while reading the first sentence of my story.
Understanding Time Traveling
Time travel is one of mankind’s biggest obsession, and has been popular topic for the science fiction scene in decades. From Wells’s “The Time Machine” to “Doctor Who” we all recall a moment in our life where we found ourselves seduced with the idea of travelling back and forward between different points in time. And today I’ve realized we are doing it constantly for some time now.
Let me start by sharing a short extract of the latest David Letterman Interview with former POTUS Barack Obama. He [President Obama] then tells the former late-night host that "if you are getting all of your information off algorithms on a phone, it's just reinforcing whatever biases you have …. That's what is happening with these Facebook pages where more and more people are getting their news from. At a certain point, you just live in a bubble. I think it's a solvable problem, but it's one that we need to spend some valuable time thinking about." (My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, 2018, available in Netflix)
Translating: if the mobile phone is your primary source of accessing all the services you use in your day to day life (let’s take for example Amazon Prime, your favorite newspaper or your favorite online travel agency) the algorithms, mentioned by President Obama, will be able to build and continuously grow your biases and predict: what you are going to have for dinner tomorrow, whom you are going to vote in the next elections or your new favorite holiday destination. Meaning the “bubble” is actually, THE TIME MACHINE. Tadaaa. Round of applause people. But can this be really possible? Are we, humans, so predictable?
Of how I lived to tell the story
The other day I was checking out my Instagram feed and my facebook timeline whiles switching through LinkedIn and Flipboard at once. The daily morning routine I am sure you already know. I can’t remember exactly the content I saw but the next thing I remember was buying a plane ticket to Iceland, land of the Northern Lights. To my surprise, after acquiring the ticket, the AirBnB Instagram account was showing me amazing experiences to discover in Island and Hertz was advertising some amazingly cheap fares for the car rental. It looked like the whole universe was picturing me flying to Iceland, sleeping in an AirBnB and driving into the wild with the smallest and ugliest car that the Hertz fleet is having in the Keflavik airport. And to my amazement in just 5 days from this exact moment in time, I was landing in Iceland.
To me, this, kind readers, is time travelling. The “Machine” was capable of opening my eyes towards a destination that it knew was suitable for the present-me, and recommend me components of my trip the future-me had enjoyed. And all that given based on the grace and virtue of my travel bias, that combines my search and content consumption patterns with my travel preferences based on passed travels.
Nevertheless, it would have been nice if the “Machine” could have advised present-me of the fact that future-me is going to land in Iceland at 01:00 hrs and the car rental shop is going to be closed at that time and therefore he is going to get to the AirBnB late and he doesn’t have the code so he’ll has to freeze in the search of a random hotel and whilst doing it a local is going to hit his rented car. Ah and that he is going to lose he’s flight back home so he needs to buy a new plane ticket…
The End. Of the World as we know it.
Random Meeting of the D: N/A – Data Not Available Anonymous Association
- “Good Morning, my name is Dan”
- “Hi Dan” (the crowd)
- “It’s been 3 hours and 2 minutes since I shared my data with some random website and thus poured more knowledge into my biases”. Can you imagine such a scene? It should be something worth bearing in mind.
NOTE TO MR INTERNET-Things happen to me very often. Please bear in mind and set an additional comfort margin to my bias so that the algorithm can work properly.