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The Influence of Algorithms and How to Use Them


An algorithm is a distinct set of instructions for solving a problem. Rachel Metz explains an algorithm can be hard-coded, with fixed directions as in alphabetizing names, which is why computer-based decision-making has been reliant on algorithms for decades. More recently, the transition of algorithms from something extracted from the world into something that shapes it is seen through the wide-ranging impact of technology in our everyday lives. Algorithms can influence something as ubiquitous as bus schedules, search engine filters in online stores or movie recommendations on streaming platforms.

Going point by point across the significant valley of how algorithms in technology are changing the landscapes of our routine is an extensive discussion. Though perhaps the most pressing one is this— the role algorithms take in the technology embedded in our daily use.

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is a technology-based process that mimics a person’s ability to classify faces according to their features. This system operates with biometric technology, which maps a person’s facial features to match the information to a database of known faces. Facial recognition has been used for home security systems and identity theft prevention.

Several fields of research have also adapted facial recognition to develop new solutions for prevalent issues. For example, Maya Ordoñez discusses the crucial role of facial recognition in catching cancer mutations in DNA. By applying the same algorithm used in facial recognition to identify these mutations, a new subfield of cancer research can emerge to support prevention or early detection.


The advent of digitalization has led businesses to implement marketing strategies based on their effectiveness in reaching customers. Marketing, then, utilizes algorithms to store and analyze user behavior and past purchases to determine the likelihood of future sales. This is why search engines can show you products you’re inclined to purchase.

However, a marketing strategy’s capacity to increase its reach continues to be a critical challenge for businesses. Algorithms to Live By expounds on the application of precise algorithms in solving uniquely human problems. This is why effective marketing strategies should be supported by algorithms that provide your marketing mechanisms better chances of providing actionable data, so you’re able to connect with your audience. In doing so, data collected by these algorithms can illuminate points of success and failure to develop strategies that will prove beneficial for businesses in the long run. These insights can then be used as predictive tools to guide future marketing campaigns.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) simulates human intelligence processes through machines. This advancement has allowed technology to intervene in human dilemmas and anticipate outcomes of key events. With this, artificial intelligence has expertly blended into the corners of everyday life— opening new careers, as we discuss in our post on ‘Definition Of Information Technology’, and even influencing elections.

During elections, numerous considerations for conducting surveys and crafting campaigns must be made. If Then chronicles the first few instances of algorithmic behavior modeling, and its role in the intersection of politics and society. The book catalogs Simulatics Corporation’s efforts to predict the future by using AI back in 1959, describing instances where the technology surveyed American voters, predicted their behavior and provided campaign advice to influence a contentious election.

Search platforms

Search platforms often use an algorithm that enables them to retrieve and index data. Interpretation of this data allows them to gauge the relevance of a web page and its contents, and assign a score to every search engine result.

With Google receiving billions of searches a day, users expect the algorithm to supply them with timely content. Of course, typing in instinctive keywords might be insufficient for savvy users. In fact, Charlie Warzel reports that although Google’s ranking algorithm helped match a user to quality links that were, at once, relevant and intuitive, today users mostly yield ads and corporate search results. Fortunately, Google was recently updated with a Freshness Algorithm, which sharpens search results to better satisfy user intent and boost the relevance measure of search queries.

Whether direct or peripheral, algorithms have influenced various facets of our daily routines. Understanding the depth in which these manifest in technology will allow us to use these tools productively.

Written by Cassandra Brent for

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