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When Algorithms Replace Tastemakers48:37
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This Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, photo shows music streaming apps clockwise from top left, Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google on an iPhone in New York. (Jenny Kane/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
This Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, photo shows music streaming apps clockwise from top left, Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google on an iPhone in New York. (Jenny Kane/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

You think you’ve got style? Actually, algorithms are the new tastemakers now. How does machine learning influence what we watch, wear and listen to?

Guests:

Kyle Chayka, writer who has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Blooomberg. His story "Style Is an Algorithm" on the beauty and style website Racked explores taste in the age algorithm recommendations. (@chaykak)

Simon Doonan, fashion writer and creative ambassador-at-large for the New York-based clothing store Barneys. (@simondoonan)

From The Reading List:

Racked: "Style Is an Algorithm" -- "The Echo Look won’t tell you why it’s making its decisions. And yet it purports to show us our ideal style, just as algorithms like Netflix recommendations, Spotify Discover, and Facebook and YouTube feeds promise us an ideal version of cultural consumption tailored to our personal desires. In fact, this promise is inherent in the technology itself: Algorithms, as I’ll loosely define them, are sets of equations that work through machine learning to customize the delivery of content to individuals, prioritizing what they think we want, and evolving over time based on what we engage with."

Style. Some people have it. Others don’t. For most of human history, great taste has been an ineffable, almost magical quality. An unconscious knowing of what makes something great. But now, enter the algorithm. Machine learning, coded rules, digital decisions made by online retail, music, style and fashion services like Stitch Fix and Amazon’s Echo Look. Will the algorithms give us all better taste? Or will they flatten fashion into a cold, soulless, data-driven set of averages, where ones and zeroes are forever the new black?

This hour, On Point: You are what the algorithm tells you to wear. Plus, French President Emmanuel Macron's address to Congress.

-- Meghna Chakrabarti

This program aired on April 25, 2018.

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