与女朋友同居的决定也许是错误的

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概要:  导读:刚毕业的大学生,突然觉醒,认识到算法对他自己现实世界的介入如此潜移默化。很多选择是真得来源于他自己的意志么?还是各种算法的推荐累加,最终导致他做出的决定。他觉得时候考虑跟女朋友同居这件事在决策上的合理性了。   Fr...

 

导读:刚毕业的大学生,突然觉醒,认识到算法对他自己现实世界的介入如此潜移默化。很多选择是真得来源于他自己的意志么?还是各种算法的推荐累加,最终导致他做出的决定。他觉得时候考虑跟女朋友同居这件事在决策上的合理性了。

 

Free Will in an Algorithmic World

算法世界里的自由意志

In this brave new world, many of our choices aren’t choices at all

在这个勇敢的世界里,我们做出的很多选择,其实不是选择

Kartik Hosanagar

Mar 5

Tai, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, wakes up at the perfect time every morning—well-rested, but not late for classes or appointments. Today that meant rising at 7:18 a.m. He did not set his alarm for that time. Rather, it was chosen for him. His phone’s sleep-tracker app had been following his sleep patterns over the past few months, monitoring his REM cycles and periods of lighter rest. Using this information, it set a smart alarm that wakes him during a light stage of sleep, while also trying to maintain some level of consistency over time. The theory is that this schedule will prime Tai for greater energy and concentration throughout the day.

Tai, 一个宾夕法尼亚大学大四的学生,每天睡眠充足,起床后精神饱满,而且不会错过上课和一些活动预约。但今天,他得在早上7:18分起床。他没有去主动定闹铃。但很自觉得就醒了。他手机上的睡眠追踪应用在过去的几个月里一直跟踪他的睡眠模式,监测他的REM周期和轻度睡眠时间。这款睡眠APP设置了一个智能警报,在轻度睡眠阶段唤醒他,同时还试图保持一定程度的一致性。从理论上讲,这个时间表将为Tai提供全天充足的能量和注意力。

Tai needs to be sharp. He’s at a turning point in his life, about to step away from the relatively safe world of college—of information-gathering, homework, and exams—into the “real” world of practical problem solving: finding a job, choosing a place to live, and negotiating the wonderful but complicated details of a romantic relationship that’s getting more serious by the day.

Tai需要保持机敏。因为他目前正处于人生的一个转折点上,从学校相对安全的舒的环境,包括信息搜集、作业和考试中走出来,进入一个“真实”的充满各种问题的世界:找工作,选地方住,谈复杂、曲折、并在今后或许会变得越来越棘手的恋爱。

Tai rolls over in bed and, with one eye open, grabs his phone and checks his notifications: 14 likes on his latest Insta, seven Facebook notifications, and three comments on his new Facebook profile picture. Not bad for a Monday night. He scrolls down his Facebook feed. An article shared by his friend Harry grabs his attention with its headline, “The Wealth of New Choices With Robot Vacuum Cleaners.” He clicks and, liking what he reads about the Eufy RoboVac cleaner, forwards the article to his girlfriend, Kate.

Tai在床上翻了个滚,眯着一只眼睛,抓起手机查看短消息:instagram上有14个点赞,7个脸书消息,3个评论在他脸书个人照片资料下面。周一晚上整体还不错。他往下翻他脸书上信息流。一条他朋友哈瑞分享的文章引起了他的注意,标题是“选择机器人真空吸尘器的好处”。他点开这篇文章,就像当他看到有关Eufy RoboVac牌清洁剂的内容一样,他随手把这条新闻发给了他女朋友凯特。 

There’s an email from his mom, too, with a link to a New York Times article, “What I Wish I’d Known Before Moving in Together.” Tai groans. Mention even a possibility to his mother, and she sets it in stone. The picture accompanying the article shows an attractive couple in their thirties sitting on an unblemished white staircase, smiling into each other’s eyes. He types, “Ha ha thanks. That middle-aged couple looks happy, see. How did you find this?” Calling them middle-aged will definitely get on his mom’s nerves. But there’s no time for more needling: It’s already 7:28 a.m.

他妈妈给他发了一封邮件,邮件中还附了一篇来自纽约时报的文章链接:“在同居之前我希望我能了解到的事情”,Tai不满得咕哝了几句,他希望妈妈不要管他这么多,但他妈却一成不变。这篇文章上附的图片显示一对30多岁让人羡慕的情侣,正坐在洁白无暇的白色楼梯上,彼此笑望着对方。他给他妈回信说,“哈哈,谢谢老妈,这对中年情侣看起来很开心啊,你从哪里找到的这篇文章啊?”他称文章中那对是中年情侣,肯定刺激了他妈的神经。但是,没有更多的时间再去刺激他妈了:已经早上7:28了。

Tai rolls out of bed and, walking across his dusty carpet, opens his dresser, pulling out a pair of stretch washed chinos from Bonobos (he follows the online clothing retailer on Instagram), blue-and-gray argyle socks (top-rated on Amazon), and a dress shirt and tie. He has a job interview today.

Tai从床上爬起来,穿过脏兮兮的地毯,打开他的衣柜,拉出一条Bonobos牌的弹力水洗斜纹棉布裤(他在Instagram上关注了该品牌的衣服),蓝灰色多色菱形图案的袜子(在亚马逊上排名第一),还有礼服衬衫和领带。今天他有一个工作面试。 

As he sits down for breakfast, Tai thinks of the fortuitous circumstances that led to the interview. He found the job posting through his friend Samantha, who LinkedIn’s algorithms had reminded him to congratulate on her six-month work anniversary. Their conversation had been a little awkward, as Tai and Samantha had matched on Tinder a few years earlier. She was an artsy girl with a bubbling self-confidence; lots to like about her, but neither of them felt any sparks. And although they became friends, it had been hard for Tai to keep up with her since she graduated, especially since Kate wasn’t Samantha’s biggest fan.

当他坐下来吃早餐时,Tai想了采访中可能会发生的偶然情况。他通过他的朋友Samantha找到了这份工作,他的LinkedIn算法提醒他祝贺她六个月的工作周年纪念日。几年前在Tinder上遇到对方的时候,他们的谈话有点尴尬,她是一个充满自信心的艺术女孩;有很多闪光点,但他们彼此没有感觉到任何火花。 

Tai’s friendship with Samantha is hardly the only thing that’s been getting on Kate’s nerves lately. Their discussion about possibly moving in together seems to be stressing her out. Over the weekend, Tai had sent Kate a Huffington Post recommended article: “15 Things Couples Should Do Before Moving In Together,” which she read with great interest—especially point number 15, “Have an exit strategy.” Tai suggested that if they did split up, it would make sense for her to be the one to move out—after all, he had found the new apartment for the two of them. But it was only a contingency plan. Her angry texts on the subject were still awaiting his reply.

Tai与Samantha的友谊也许是唯一让Tai的女朋友凯特神经紧张的事情了。他们谈论同居这件事,似乎就是凯特想让Samantha出局的办法。连着几个周末,Tai都给凯特发送一些赫芬顿邮报的推荐文章:“同居前应该知道的15件事情“,凯特对这类文章非常感兴趣,尤其是当她读到第15条,”制定一个退出计划“。Tai建议,如果他们真的分手了,凯特是那个应该搬出去的人,毕竟,是他为他俩找的这个新公寓。但这只是一个应急计划。凯特对这一点非常生气,一直在等待向Tai讨个说法。

 

It all seems kind of random at one level. But he can’t help but wonder about the degree to which the algorithms employed by Facebook, Google, Tinder, and Amazon have a role to play in his present circumstances.

这一切似乎都是随机的。但他不禁怀疑Facebook,谷歌,Tinder和亚马逊所采用的算法在其目前的情况下可以发挥作用的程度。

 

After dressing, Tai checks his phone again to see if there are more texts. Nothing new from Kate, but there is a reply from his mom about the Times article: “Oh, I was looking for housewarming gifts for you and Kate, and it popped up on Google. Why don’t you send it to her, sweetie? And good luck on your interview this morning!”

穿好衣服后,Tai再次检查他的手机,看是否还有更多留言。凯特没有什么新东西,但是他的妈妈回复了有关“泰晤士报”的文章:“噢,我正在为你和凯特寻找乔迁礼物,它出现在谷歌上。亲爱的,你为什么不把这个礼物送给她?祝你今天早上面试顺利!“

Tai can hear Chance the Rapper, chosen for him by Spotify Discover, rapping on the other side of his bedroom wall, which is now glowing with the light of the rising sun from the east window. It’s time to head out for the interview. He looks for an Uber to take him to campus. The price is $11.23, which feels a bit steep; yesterday it had been $9.34 for the same route. He closes the app and relaunches it. The price is now $10.82. It’s not clear to Tai why it changed, but he confirms the booking this time and waits at his door for the Toyota Corolla to pull up.

Tai现在听到Spotify(流行的音乐App) “发现”功能为他选择的Chance the Rapper,在他的卧室墙的另一边咚咚作响,卧室的墙面,在东面窗户透过的冉冉升起的太阳光芒中发光。是时候出去面试了。他找一个优步带他去校园。价格是11.23美元,感觉有点不合理;昨天同一路线的价格为9.34美元。他关闭应用程序并重新启动它。现在的价格是10.82美元。Tai目前还不清楚为何价格会有变化,但他这次确认了预订,站在门口等着预订到的司机开着丰田卡罗拉过来接他。

As he exchanges pleasantries with the driver, Tai opens a notebook to work on his case interviews, the part of business school job applications where students are asked to think through a challenging business scenario and present a solution. The case prep document shared by another student includes the question: What is root cause analysis?

当他与司机交换意见时,Tai打开一个笔记本来处理他的案例访谈,这是商学院工作申请的一部分,要求学生思考具有挑战性的商业场景并提出解决方案。另一名学生共享的案例准备文件包括以下问题:什么是从根本上分析原因?

Tai jots down some notes, applies that technique to analyze his day today, and produces a diagram:

Tai记下一些笔记,运用这种技术来分析今天他的一天,并制作了一个图表:

 

It all seems kind of random at one level. But he can’t help but wonder about the degree to which the algorithms employed by Facebook, Google, Tinder, and Amazon have a role to play in his present circumstances. Will he have some cooked-up equation from a programmer to thank for his next job? And is this job really the best next step for his life and career or just the accidental result of inconsequential past decisions—clicks of a mouse and swipes on a screen? Tai likes to think of himself as being in the driver’s seat. But this Uber ride suggests he’s not — both figuratively and literally.

这一切似乎都是随机的。但他不禁怀疑Facebook,谷歌,Tinder和亚马逊所采用的算法在其目前的情况下可以发挥作用的程度。他是否可以从一个程序员那里,通过一个虚构的等式,测试出他下一个工作?这项工作真的是他生命和职业生涯中最好的选择,还是过去决定无关紧要的偶然结果——都基于他点击鼠标和在屏幕上滑动的日常行为?Tai喜欢把自己想象成坐在驾驶员的座位。但这次优步打车的经历表明他不是 - 无论是比喻还是字面上。

Or maybe he’s just overthinking things, the aftereffect of an in-class discussion we had on personalization algorithms just a few days earlier. He sends me an email: “Have something interesting to show you. Do you have 10 minutes after class?”

或许他只是思虑过度,这是几天前我们对个性化算法进行的课堂讨论的后果。他给我发了一封电子邮件:“有一些有趣的东西给你看。你下课后有10分钟时间吗?“

Tai sighs and shuts his notebook. Maybe all he and Kate need is to get away for a bit to reconsider this moving-in idea. He pulls out his phone and opens Expedia’s app. It might have some good hotel recommendations.

Tai叹了口气,合上了他的笔记本。也许他和凯特所需要的,是抽离出来,从新思考下同居这个事情了。他拿出手机打开Expedia(类似中国的携程)的应用程序。它可能有一些很好的酒店建议。

Since 2004 I’ve been teaching a class at Wharton called “Enabling Technologies.” In hindsight I should have named it “What’s Going On in Tech,” because that’s a more accurate and descriptive name. One topic that has remained a constant in the course through the years is algorithmic decision-making. The sort of question that Tai asked—to what extent are we in control of our own actions?—is coming up in the class more and more often.

自2004年以来,我一直在沃顿商学院教授一门名为“应用技术”的课程。事后我应该将其命名为“科技中有什么”,因为这是一个更准确和描述性的名称。多年来这门课程中一直保持不变的一个主题是算法决策。Tai问出的问题——“我们在多大程度上控制了自己的行为?” - 这种问题越来越多地出现在课堂上。

Consider these facts: 80 percent of viewing hours streamed on Netflix originate from automated recommendations. By some estimates, nearly 35 percent of sales at Amazon originate from automated recommendations. And the vast majority of matches on dating apps such as Tinder and OkCupid are initiated by algorithms. Given these numbers, many of us clearly do not have quite the freedom of choice we believe we do.

请考虑以下事实:用户在Netflix流媒体传输上观看时间的80%来自自动推荐。据估计,亚马逊近35%的销售额来自自动化推荐。约会应用程序(如Tinder和OkCupid)上的绝大多数匹配都是由算法启动的。鉴于这些数字,我们中的许多人显然不是我们想的那样实现了选择自由。

One reason is that products are often designed in ways that make us act impulsively and against our better judgment. For example, suppose you have a big meeting at work tomorrow. Ideally, you want to spend some time preparing for it in the evening and then get a good night’s rest. But before you can do either, a notification pops up on your phone indicating that a friend tagged you on Facebook. “This will take a minute,” you tell yourself as you click on it. But after logging in, you discover a long feed of posts by friends. A few clicks later, you find yourself watching a YouTube video that one of them shared. As soon as the video ends, YouTube suggests other related and interesting videos. Before you know it, it’s 1:00 a.m., and it’s clear that you will need an all-nighter to get ready for the following morning’s meeting. This has happened to most of us.

一个原因是产品的设计通常会让我们冲动地采取行动并违背我们更好的判断。例如,假设明天你要参加一次大型会议。理想情况下,你想花一些时间在晚上做好准备,然后晚上好好休息。但在你可以做之前,手机上会弹出一个通知,表明朋友在Facebook上标记了你。 “这需要一分钟,”当你点击它时你告诉自己。但登录后,您会发现朋友的帖子很长。点击几下,您会发现自己正在观看其中一个人分享的YouTube视频。视频结束后,YouTube还会推荐其他相关且有趣的视频。在您意识到时间飞逝之前,已经凌晨1点,很明显您需要通宵工作,为第二天早上的会议做好准备。这发生在我们大多数人身上。

The reason this behavior is so common, as some product designers have noted, is that popular design approaches—such as the use of notifications and gamification to increase user engagement—exploit and amplify human vulnerabilities, such as our need for social approval or our inability to resist immediate gratification even when we recognize that it comes with long-term costs. While we might feel as if we are making our own choices, we’re often nudged or even tricked into making them.

正如一些产品设计师所指出的,这种行为如此普遍的原因,在于流行的产品设计理念 - 例如使用通知和游戏化来增加用户参与度 – 开发和扩大人类的弱点:例如我们需要社会的认可,还有,即使我们认识到做某些事情会带来长期成本,但因为可以得到即时的满足,我们却没有能力抵抗不去做它。虽然我们可能觉得我们正在做出自己的选择,但其实我们常常被推动,甚至被蛊惑着做出了选择。

Another reason we aren’t truly in control of our choices is that when we search for a hotel on Expedia, browse online dating profiles, or shop for a book, we’re seeing only a small fraction of all the potentially relevant information available. Although we experience a clear sense of free will by making the final decision regarding what we see, read, or buy, the fact is that 99 percent of all possible alternatives were excluded.

我们无法真正控制选择的另一个原因是,当我们在Expedia上搜索酒店,浏览在线约会档案或购买书籍时,我们只能看到所有可能相关信息的一小部分。尽管我们通过对我们所看到、阅读或购买的内容做出最终决定来体验清晰的自由意志,但事实是99%的可能替代品被排除在外。

You probably don’t mind saving all the time you might have wasted in sifting through inferior options to arrive at a final choice. But algorithms do not simply help us find products or information quickly, which we might have found eventually without their assistance. In truth, they exert a significant influence on precisely what and how much we consume.

您可能不介意去筛选劣质选项以便达到最终选择时所花费的时间。但算法并不能简单地帮助我们快速找到产品或信息,而且,最终我们会发现,离开算法,我们自己似乎也找不到那些所需的信息。这是事实,算法对我们消费的精确度和消费量产生了重大影响。

 

The conventional narrative is that algorithms will make faster and better decisions for all of us, leaving us with more time for family and leisure. But the reality isn’t so simple.

通常的说法是算法将为我们所有人做出更快更好的决策,让我们有更多的时间用于家庭和休闲。但现实并非如此简单。

 

We also experience the impact of algorithms on social media websites, where we are likely to believe that our friends are the chief drivers of the content we see. In reality, algorithms play an equally important role. In 2012, Facebook conducted a study in which they tweaked their news feed algorithm to show some users more “hard news”—think more “war in Iraq” and less “cats fitting in boxes.” They then measured how many of these users clicked the “I voted” button that most of us saw at the top of our Facebook feed in November 2012.

我们还体验了算法对社交媒体网站的影响,我们可能会相信,朋友是我们所看到的内容的主要驱动因素。实际上,算法起着同样重要的作用。 2012年,Facebook进行了一项研究,调查了他们的新闻提要算法,他们向一些用户展示了更多的“硬新闻”——也就是更多的是“伊拉克战争”,而不是“装在盒子里的猫”。然后他们测量了这同一批用户中有多少人点击了2012年11月我们大多数人在Facebook Feed的顶部看到的“我投票”按钮。

They compared the self-reported voter turnout of this group against a control group whose news feed algorithm had not been modified. The researchers found that users who had their news feed algorithm tweaked increased their voting turnout by three percentage points, from 64 percent for the control group to 67 percent for the treatment group. A follow-up survey found that these users were also significantly more likely to report that they paid attention to government. Three percentage points might not sound like much, but the outcomes of elections, including the U.S. presidential election in 2016, are frequently determined by smaller amounts.

他们比较了调整算法推荐的用户与没有被实施调整后的算法推荐的用户的投票结果。研究人员发现,调整了新闻推荐算法的用户将投票率增加了3个百分点,从不被受控的用户组的64%增加到受控用户组的67%。一项后续调查发现,这些受控用户也有更多可能会关注政府相关事宜,三个百分点可能听起来不多,但选举的结果,包括2016年的美国总统大选,往往是由较小的数额决定的。

Look around you and ask what drives your product, media, and people choices. Unless you are a tech Luddite, algorithms are silently rearranging your life. The conventional narrative is that algorithms will make faster and better decisions for all of us, leaving us with more time for family and leisure. But the reality isn’t so simple. In this brave new world, many of our choices are in fact predestined, and all the seemingly small effects that algorithms have on our decisions add up to a transformative impact on our lives. Because who we are, ultimately, is the sum total of the various decisions we make over a lifetime.

环顾四周,询问是什么驱动了您的产品,媒体和人们的选择。除非你是一个技术Luddite(反对技术的人),算法正在默默地重新安排你的生活。传统的说法是算法将为我们所有人做出更快更好的决策,让我们有更多的时间用于家庭和休闲。但现实并非如此简单。在这个勇敢的新世界中,我们的许多选择实际上是注定的,但算法对我们的决策所产生的所有看似微小的影响,聚合在一起都会对我们的生活产生变革性的影响。因为,我们是谁,最终取决于我们在一生中做出的各种决定的总和。

 


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