Are Machines Better Than Humans?

Charlie Neer of Co.Create recently shared his insights regarding the rise of predictive analytics and how humans stack up by comparison. He writes, "We all know the history behind the recent economic crisis. I wonder though, if most people know that trading algorithms predicted the fall from grace long before the actual traders? Check it out for yourself. When you consider this, it makes perfect sense. Given the amount of variables that abound and the speed at which they are changing, humans simply can’t keep up. In a more industry-specific example, look at the evolution of display ad serving optimization. As the number of variables increased, so did the speed of technology adoption. We went from spreadsheets to dynamic cost per thousand (dCPM) to RTB in less than five years."

He goes on, "Let’s think beyond today. What happens when you break through the finite set of inferred third-party targeting attributes in display advertising to a point where one has the ability to adjust bids based on plethora of accurate first-party data curated by the end user? Examples include your entire Facebook profile or your entire history on the web through OpenGraph, which are your likes, dislikes, desires, music taste, last time you ate, exercise habits, sexual orientation and more. The truth is that hiring enough people to monitor, adjust, and optimize this amount of information is economically unsustainable if not logistically impossible--a machine must be leveraged. So what will our role be if not that of decision maker? We need to assume the role of the architect, the regulator, and the artist. Complex technologies are performing complicated and extensive lists of decisions that given infinite time and resource humans could perform, but in our advertising world time is not infinite."

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Image: Courtesy Flickr/ Sebastianlund