Artificial Untelligence

Amazon is not for the eclectic.

To be more precise, Amazon’s product recommendations are not for this eclectic.

Over the years, I must have spent enough on Amazon to be personally funding its drone project. I survive its frequent miscategorisations, such as putting a book on agricultural valuation in fine arts, its endless listings of reprinted copyright-free works, its incessant pleas for me to pay almost as much for a Kindle version as for a real tangible book, and its vast rambling subject listings.

But the one thing that sticks in my craw almost every time I browse is how dumb its recommendations are.

When I have just bought a Lego set for my grandson, or a PS3 game for my son, the fact that 99% of my purchases have been books, of which most have been fine arts or linguistics, is thrown out of the window. It is as if its computers are saying “Got you, you’re really a secret Legomaniac and gamer. Now we can offload our more profitable lines on you, instead of those fusty old art books that you never really wanted.”

I have even taken to painstakingly removing recommendations, clicking the Not Interested buttons one by one, then updating the page. It just fills it with more crap that I would not want in a month of Sundays.

If this is the state of the art in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to online trading, we should really fear for the future of AI.