Making Netflix “Smarter”

June 4th, 2007

Darts and cobwebs part II

NYTimes has an article on the ongoing Netflix recommendation open challenge thing. ($1mil to a team that can produce the best collaborative filtering mouse trap)

Unfortunately the project is flawed, because the basic question is flawed, fundamentally and in a very simple way. We have moods, we have shifting interests, and trying to compile all those multi-variates into a single vector of interest is impossible.

Rather then making the computers super smart, I’d rather see an interface like the Pandora channel creation where you choose 2-4 songs that suit your mood and the system finds the common elements.

Tonight at the video store I wanted something that was smart and fast enough to be engaging, without being so smart that it took work to follow. Maybe a political thriller? If I could have mixed a recommendation queue out of 3 Days of the Condor meets Wag the Dog meets something like Enemy of the State to find something in that vein that would have been better then all the weighted neural nets.

And I’ll wave the million dollars if they just build it already.

Not sure where this systemic biasis for computer as deep thinker comes from, probably dates all the way back to the Ultra project and other primordial computer science legends. But its the wrong metaphor here and now, smarter, smaller tools to extend the human reach, not replace humans.

(can you tell I didn’t find my movie?)

Photo by wili

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