YouTube deals in the extraordinary and shuns the ordinary. Whether that’s the everyday life of improbably rich young millionaires like Jake Paul, a high school dropout from Westlake, Ohio, or PewDiePie, a skinny, fast-talking Swede whose real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, YouTube seeks to serve a need.
It does so through “the algorithm” — YouTube’s recommendation engine. It’s a black box that YouTube introduced to keep us watching, but which has become a thorn in its side as the platform grows at an astronomically grand scale.
YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is a set of rules followed by cold, hard computer logic. It was designed by human engineers, but is then programmed into and run automatically by computers, which return recommendations, telling viewers which videos they should watch. Google Brain, an artificial intelligence research team within the company, powers those recommendations, and bases them on user’s prior viewing. The system is highly intelligent, accounting for variations in the way people watch their videos.
By Chris Stokel-Walker
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