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Put today's invasive technology to good use

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John Mulaney Sep 14, 2021
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The internet knows what I'm upto more than my best friends. If it can follow my every activity, understand my likes and dislikes, basically read my mind, it can possibly find me a soulmate or atleast really good friends with whom I'll have the most to talk about.
What if similar to how we are recommended products and movies and things to watch on social media, it can recommend us friends? Currently, we are recommended people based on the current contacts, school we went to etc. But the internet has more information than that which can be used to find people similar to you anywhere in the world.
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General comments

Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
John Mulaney I totally agree with the proposition of your idea, I was thinking along the same lines for quite a long time already. I think this should be the future of social media and it’s probably inevitable anyway.

Samuel Bello I’m not sure if privacy issues are the main obstacle keeping online recommendation technology from moving into the direction of recommending people because this is already happening to an extent on various online platforms anyway. Algorithms don't recommend people directly, but it happens as a side product of people liking/commenting/forming groups around specific content that they happen to share interests in. Also, social media algorithms suggest people "you might know" and the likes, various factors go into that "you might know", they are not only friends of your friends, they might visit similar places of entertainment, have attained the same institution of education or the same workplace, etc., so one might argue that this is already recommending people based on shared interests/similarities.

Another argument that could be made regarding the privacy of this is that if the algorithm would show your profile to the people it thinks matches you the most, this is even better than your profile being visible to potentially anybody on that social media site. Now all you need to know to find somebody is their name/nickname. The same restrictions of not showing extensive details of your profile to people you have not befriended/followed could stay valid for people that the algorithm matches, the final decision to whom to reveal your details/whom to befriend should be up to the users.

Manel Lladó Santaeularia I think that algorithms could match you with someone that would suit you well as a person/friend/partner even better than you are able to do that yourself. It's simply a matter of sophisticated information processing. This is the reason why people often feel like recommendation algorithms can read their minds or like they know what we want before we even want that. You can't consciously grasp as many aspects that define your own personality as AI can, that's why it seems like mind reading. To match one person with another is more complicated than to match a product or a piece of content with a person, but nevertheless, the principles behind this process are the same.

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Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello3 years ago
I agree that the internet knows a lot more about you and most other people than we would like like to admit. The internet is probably aware of what you desire or need the most. The reason the internet might not want to sell you friends is that they cannot sell you things without telling you a lot of details about them. How can they sell you friends if without sharing information about the prospective friends with you? Sharing people's information usually requires their consent and a lot of people will not be comfortable with sharing their information that freely.

Another source of insecurity is that people's lives will feel more controlled because such a system will be very effective in matching people with what they need the most. It could be disastrous if anyone who can control one's life that much used it for their own gain.
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John Mulaney3 years ago
Samuel Bello Well yes personal information should be given away only with the consent of the people interested in the service and it should be developed such that the working of the algorithm and individual information is anonymous and encrypted. As for other information, I wanted to use the information already available which websites are using for targetted advertising etc. Yes such a service may try to obtain more information and this could be dangerous. But this threat seems imminent even if such a service is not invented. We regularly give out personal information on all kinds of platforms which can be exploitted. I think rules and laws should check on this regard as I hope they are on other social media platforms, search engines, banking websites etc.
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Manel Lladó Santaeularia
Manel Lladó Santaeularia3 years ago
Hi John Mulaney! I'm intrigued by the concept of your idea. I agree that the continuous attempt at selling us products with advertisements gets annoying and feels "useless". However it is there because companies pay for being advertised and gain something from that.

However I agree that the same algorythms that are used for that could also be used for doing good things. What you propose is interesting, but it is not a given that any person with similar interests or profile is going to fit in with you as a friend or "soulmate". I think one of the best ways to make friends on the internet is by participating in communities with shared interests, like facebook groups, subreddits or even here! This way you can interact with a lot of people that have shared interests and maybe find some that like you and want to be your friends.

Do you think we could use these algorythms to maybe reccommend these communities? That would definitely be something new.
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John Mulaney3 years ago
So it should be something like matrix recommendation but instead of the products/items, I want the nearest users whose items the algorithm is recommending me.
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