Is there evidence that recommender systems are changing users' preferences?

From reading the summary in this post, it doesn't look like the YouTube video discussed bears on the question of whether the algorithm is radicalizing people 'intentionally,' which I take to be the interesting part of Russell's claim.

Is there evidence that recommender systems are changing users' preferences?

I just don't think we've seen anything that favors the hypothesis "algorithm 'intentionally' radicalizes people in order to get more clicks from them in the long run" over the hypothesis "algorithm shows people what they will click on the most (which is often extreme political content, and this causes them to become more radical, in a self-reinforcing cycle.)"

Is there evidence that recommender systems are changing users' preferences?

I think that experiment wouldn't prove anything about the algorithm's "intentions," which seem to be the interesting part of the claim. One experiment that maybe would (I have no idea if this is practical) is giving the algorithm the chance to recommend two pieces of content: a) high likelihood of being clicked on, b) lower likelihood of being clicked on, but makes the people who do click on it more polarized. Not sure if a natural example of such a piece of content exists.

Is there evidence that recommender systems are changing users' preferences?

Good question. I'm not sure why you'd privilege Russell's explanation over the explanation "people click on extreme political content, so the click-maximizing algorithm feeds them extreme political context."

How much does performance differ between people?

Agreed. The slight initial edge that drives the eventual enormous success in the winner-takes-most market can also be provided by something other than talent — that is, by something other than people trying to do things and succeeding at what they tried to do. For example, the success of Fifty Shades of Grey  seems best explained by luck.

What drew me to EA: Reflections on EA as relief, growth, and community

The "EA as relief" framing resonated with me (though my background is different) and I appreciate your naming it!

What quotes do you find most inspire you to use your resources (effectively) to help others?

"There is a genius for impoverishment always at work in the world. And it has its way, as if its proceedings were not only necessary but even sensible. Its rationale, its battle cry, is Competition."

— Marilynne Robinson

The Vegan Value Asymmetry and its Consequences

To the extent which reducing demand for chicken prevents or delays the slaughtering of existing chickens, I don't see why there is an asymmetry. I place positive value on chickens living their chicken lives (when those lives are net-positive, whatever that means). Go beyond that and you get into population ethics.

But more importantly,  I think this post uses the term "good action" strictly to mean "action which has positive expected value," while the common usage of "good" is broader and can include actions which are merely less negative than an alternative.

Deliberate Consumption of Emotional Content to Increase Altruistic Motivation

I don't think the focus here should be only on suffering. Sometimes, I seek out art/media that depicts human flourishing, out of a desire to increase my altruistic motivation by reminding myself just what it is that we're working to protect + create.

Obviously a ton of art/media contains "people being happy," but when I'm looking for this, I look specifically for depictions of people who are very different from each other and from me, that show these people as being unique and weird and not at all how you thought they would be. Good examples are the tv show High Maintenance and the documentary In Jackson Heights. It's a certain aesthetic that increases my altruistic motivation because it reminds me, by showing me more of it than I normally see, of what a vast expanse human experience really is.

(For animals, it's more socially acceptable to just watch them intently for long periods of time.)

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