Apparently that’s the case! According to a recent study, computers know us better than we know each other. Researchers from Cambridge University were able to show that computers are actually better at making personality judgments of humans, than humans are. Data generated through Facebook Likes provides enough information for a computer to make better judgment of us than our average work colleague (10 Likes), cohabitant or friend (70- 150), and 300 Likes are enough to outperform our partners. As researchers suggest the increase in data availability and even better computer models might lead to computers ‘outperforming humans even more decisively.’ The results of this research are far reaching, and the authors predict the possibility that in the future people might rely completely on computers when making personal decision about life partners, careers and so on.
Such trivial gesture as clicking the Like button in response to friends’ Facebook post, can contribute to computers gaining intimate knowledge about us. But the implications of this are rarely experienced immediately. As this kind of personal information is used most commonly for marketing purposes, the results of widely sharing our data online creeps into our lives in forms of directed marketing messages, advertising feeds and recommendations from Amazon.
There are a number of questions that I am interested in exploring in the context of my research, which also this study raises for me. If computers’ knowledge of us is so sophisticated, how well do we know our computers? And, recognising that a lot of personal information is constantly extracted from our online lives, can we talk here about intimate relationship? And if so, how does it feel?