How the Invisible Hand of Technology Can Help Us Make Better Decisions

Social Media Week

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The invisible hand in modern terms means that algorithms are in control.

Brandwatch CMO Will McInnes explains that we don’t have a clue how our day-to-day life happens, but that we move along because of our habits.

Academic studies show that our body is in control and our brain makes up stories on what we’re doing. Keeping this in mind, the impacts of the invisible hand of algorithms are even scarier.

Your Spotify Discover weekly playlist is an algorithm that tells you what to listen to. Google Maps tells you which streets to drive down according to current traffic data.

But we need to ask ourselves, are all these algorithms working for you? Or are some working for the companies that host them? In the example of the algorithms for colleges and healthcare providers, their algorithms are working for them.

Technological research and intelligence are evolving. We’re moving away from the world of clipboards into a world of networks. Now, we can make these algorithms work for us. Will states that “the great thing about Yelp is that he more people use it, the better it gets.” This is the future of algorithms.

He believes that we are going to see a shift to more user choices. For marketers, this means that to drive users to choose their products, they can use creative nudges. His example is that people usually take the escalator instead of the stairs in a Swedish subway stop.

By painting the stairs like piano keys and putting sound to each step, there was a shift for the majority to take the stairs.

The big invisible hand that Will sees on the horizon is a self-driving car, which can either be seen as a product that strips choices from the driver, or it can be something that learns from it’s user to be a product that is an extension of it’s driver.


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Kathleen Engle

student, NYU


I'm a graduate student at NYU, studying Digital Media Publishing. I've previously worked in the book publishing industry. For my thesis, I'm creating a content aggregator app that works across social platforms. My hobbies are graphic design and trying out popular news apps. I'm also an excel guru and a sixth generation Floridian.

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