Trust Me

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

September 14, 2023

This past weekend, the kiddos and I headed to our favorite place: the library! Lately, I’ve been extremely interested in graphic novels. So I decided to check out Liana Finck’s work titled, Excuse Me. I laughed a ton and enjoyed her work. I love learning more about how people think of themselves and how they process information. And this graphic novel was a lovely view into Liana’s mind.

I must admit, I was hooked by the time I got to page three. If I had been drinking water at the time, I’d have promptly spit it out when I saw this:

Algorithms impact our lives in many ways. Everything we scroll through on social media has been picked out by our own personal algorithms. Items we see while shopping on the internet are chosen by algorithms. If you’re on a dating app, yup, more algorithms. They are everywhere. And it turns out, we trust algorithms.

A study done on this phenomenon known as algorithm appreciation, showed people are more likely to follow algorithmic advice than identical advice offered by a human advisor due to a higher trust in algorithms than in other humans. We quite literally trust computers more than other people. And while many studies on this topic go into further specifics on why this is the case, I’m just wondering when we’ll realize algorithms can be biased – like we humans are.

Algorithms learn from our behavior. Let’s use the dating app for an example. If we swipe right on folks with blonde hair 90 percent of the time and we swipe right on brunettes 20 percent of the time, the app will begin to show us more blondes. It will learn what your preferences are. So, if humans are feeding the algorithms the answers, why do we trust the machine more than the machine trainer?

Ahhh, humanity. We are a unique species.

If a man walked into a bar and said, “I’m the most honest guy you’ll ever meet,” I wouldn’t trust him. I’m just glad I never met an algorithm in a bar wearing the t-shirt Liana illustrated above.