Your Monday Morning Must Reads — June 17, 2019


Liz Pelly, “Big Mood Machine

How does Spotify analyze data collection and algorithms to gain insight on your mood? How does it use it — how are our emotions affected? And, is this data being used and/or sold to deliver ads?

Liz Pelly takes us through a backroom world of the advanced data analytics and science that Spotify uses to personalize your music and podcasts, choose what it’s selling to you, and maybe even change how you feel. I see the cost/benefit analysis more optimistically, in that this technology does benefit us and we need to go through the process of exploration, change, and adaptation in the bigger picture. Nevertheless, the opportunity for abuse is also clearly apparent.

By the way, now advertisers can target you by the podcasts you listen to.

Lizzie Wade, “South America’s Inca Civilization Was Better at Skull Surgery Than Civil War Doctors

One wonders just how skilled at surgery U.S. Civil War doctors were, given that more men died of disease than in battle. Then again, it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that modern medicine truly took shape, and not until the post-war era for the medical technological breakthroughs that we take for granted to day — like MRI machines, cancer research, and better vaccines (polio and smallpox, for example).

Regardless, while medicine has never been as good as it is today, there were civilizations of the far past that did manage to supersede both their predecessors and successors. The Incas may have been one of these civilizations, according to Lizzie Wade.

The Incas achieved surgical success rates of around 80 percent, according to data collected by David Kushner and a team of scientists. This compares favorably to the rate of 50 percent achieved by Civil War doctors.

David Griner, “Burger King is Creating an Upside Down Whopper for Stranger Things Season 3

“Unfortunately,” the Upside Down Whopper will only be available in select restaurants. It turns out, anyways, that it’s literally an upside down whopper, so I suppose you could really get that anywhere.

Above, we talked about Spotify and their use of emotional data. This really isn’t anything new. After all, why would Burger King choose to associate their brand with Stranger Things? Do larger data sets and faster processing change the principles?

Brianne Janacek Reeber, “Why One-Size-Fits-All Video Ads are a Thing of the Past

Google put out a video case study to showcase Nescafé Dolce Gusto used highly personalized video ads to speak to and identify with its customers more directly and effectively.

Samantha Cole, “This Deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg Tests Facebook’s Fake Video Policies

Someone made a deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg and has shook its moderation and regulatory team.

The technology, of course, goes both ways. Adobe is working on an algorithmic tool to catch photoshopped fakes.

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