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October 26, 2009

When Algorithms Go Bad: Facebook Recommends Exes and Deceased

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FacebookI’ve already written today about Facebook’s new feature that shows you which of your friends might need a helping hand to gain more contacts or keep their profiles updated with photos or content, but apparently there are more disconcerting recommendations going on.

Think of it as the social network equivalent of receiving mail in the post for someone who has died (the exact reason for the problem is a bit different, but the distress is comparable).

The fact is, the algorithms that are supposed to help Facebook provide useful recommendations can only look at previous and current links between people, with no understanding of context.

That’s why Facebook has recommended that some users reconnect with ex-partners, or even with people who have died (presumably the deceased simply have dormant accounts on Facebook now).

Emotionally unsettling to say the least. read more

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September 8, 2009

IBM engineer “Twitterfies” cottage

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An IBM engineer/inventor has added a number of wireless sensors to various appliances and can now be alerted via Twitter if anything isn’t quite right.

Dr Stanford-Clark’s Isle of Wight cottage now has sensors installed that can monitor power and water usage, taps, lighting, even whether mouse traps have been triggered.

He suggested that the systems would help to reduce his carbon footprint and energy bills, saying that costs had already fallen by one-third in the last year. read more

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