“A recent study commissioned by Facebook has indicated that already today the Facebook algorithm is a better judge of human personalities and dispositions even than people’s friends, parents and spouses. The study was conducted on 86,220 volunteers who have a Facebook account and who completed a hundred-item personality questionnaire. The Facebook algorithm predicted the volunteers’ answers based on monitoring their Facebook Likes – which webpages, images and clips they tagged with the Like button. The more Likes, the more accurate the predictions. The algorithm’s predictions were compared with those of work colleagues, friends, family members and spouses. Amazingly, the algorithm needed a set of only ten Likes in order to outperform the predictions of work colleagues. It needed seventy Likes to outperform friends, 150 Likes to outperform family members and 300 Likes to outperform spouses. In other words, if you happen to have clicked 300 Likes on your Facebook account, the Facebook algorithm can predict your opinions and desires better than your husband or wife!
Indeed, in some fields the Facebook algorithm did better than the person themself. Participants were asked to evaluate things such as their level of substance use or the size of their social networks. Their judgements were less accurate than those of the algorithm. The research concludes with the following prediction (made by the human authors of the article, not by the Facebook algorithm): ‘People might abandon their own psychological judgements and rely on computers when making important life decisions, such as choosing activities, career paths, or even romantic partners. It is possible that such data-driven decisions will improve people’s lives.
Wu Youyou, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, ‘Computer-Based Personality Judgements Are More Accurate Than Those Made by Humans’, PNAS 112:4 (2015), 1036–40.
Excerpt From: Yuval Noah Harari. “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.” HarperCollins, 2016