“Digital Intuition” versus Intuitive Intelligence: Where’s the Digital Trust?

One of the latest ideas to hit the buzz circuit is the concept of “digital intuition” – introduced by my6sense, a company which has developed a tool that serves up the most relevant
information
for us. They’ve developed a recommendation engine which TechCrunch says “separates
the signal from the noise and helps users shift their attention to the
content they care about most.”

The application learns what you like, then finds more.

The Independent describes it as follows:

It compiles RSS feeds, tweets, and online blog articles – intuitively
ranking them according to your browsing habits. Within a few days (and
without any explicit intervention on your behalf) the application
optimizes the content to fit your specific tastes; the most relevant and
interesting information is automatically displayed at the top.

In my view, m6sense is misleading when calling this type of
assistance “Digital Intuition.”  It’s a recommendation engine, plain and simple. And it may be a very good one at that.  But let’s not call this intuition.

Let’s look at the difference more closely.

A recommendation engine basically tells you what you want to know based on your past behavior.  So it learns by watching you, your clickstream, and creates inferences based on your habits. It learns your habitual preferences by predicting the “questions” you are likely to ask, and tracking a history of “answers” you deem sufficient.

Intuition is exactly the opposite.  We rely on intuition to make decisions in new, unfamiliar situations. No recommendation engine can do this for us, period. How can it?  In the case of intuition, we may not even know the right “questions” to ask, let alone the “answers.”

Intuitive Intelligence, as we explain earlier: lies beyond the boundaries of science and
analytics.
It bridges the realms of reality and imagination,
reason and instinct, material and spiritual dimensions of human
existence. Intuitive Intelligence is non-linear, a key skill for success in the
new economy, an economy driven by constant disruption and chaos.

Thus the phrase “digital intuition” is a misnomer.  A good marketing ploy, perhaps, but not intuition.

This leads me to a second point: Trust.  In this case, let’s look at “digital trust.

Can you trust a recommendation engine maintained by a third-party (in this case in Israel) to track your online behavior, study your patterns, and feed you information it “selects” for you?  How will you know these recommendations are unbiased? How will you know that they’re not marketing feeds from marketers anxious to understand your buying behavior?  How can you be assured of privacy?  Where will your behavioral data be stored? Who can access it?  Will it be sold?

These are the questions that need to be answered before a service like my6sense goes mainstream.  Incidentlly, these are the same questions all cloud based services are going to have to answer – from Google, to Microsoft, to Facebook, to my6sense.

And you will have to use some of that intuitive intelligence to answer the question: “can I trust them?”  

 

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