Who Knows You Best? Probably Facebook

Question: Who do you think knows you better than anyone else? Your spouse? Your parents? Your siblings? Your BFF? Turns out the answer is probably Facebook.

A study released Monday at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in Miami was led by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University and suggests that your Facebook “likes” are probably a better judge of your true personality than your friends or family.

The study sampled over 86,000 Facebook users who voluntarily responded to a 100 question personality test. Participants also gave the researchers access to their Facebook “likes.” As a result, the study’s authors said this kind of information will enable future computers to be more in touch with users on various levels once considered the exclusive domain of humans. Wu Youyou of Cambridge said:

“In the future, computers could be able to infer our psychological traits and react accordingly, leading to the emergence of emotionally-intelligent and socially skilled machines.”

The study also used the self-identified personality scores of participants to determine where they ranked in regard to the five major personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness. As a result, the study’s authors found that a computer could better predict a someone’s personality better than a human based on just 10 Facebook “likes.” This led study co-author Michael Kosinski to announce

“Big Data and machine learning provide accuracy that the human mind has a hard time achieving, as humans tend to give too much weight to one or two examples, or lapse into non-rational ways of thinking.”

The report does, however, raise serious questions about privacy, and the authors of the study stressed the importance of new policies that would give computer users greater control of what information they choose to disclose or withhold.

So is the age of the fully aware Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer finally here? Perhaps. And eminent figures such as physicist Stephen Hawking have recently warned against the threats which could be caused by machines that are too intelligent. In June of 2104, Hawking said

“Artificial intelligence could be a real danger in the not too distant future.”

In other words, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning and your PC is sitting in your recliner, channel surfing with your remote, and asking when you plan to have breakfast ready.

This article was originally published by the same author at

By Andrew Bradford

Proud progressive journalist and political adviser living behind enemy lines in Red America.

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