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For people like us, members of the Millennial generation, the effect of technology on our lives, viewpoints, and lifestyles is deeply prevalent, to say the least. Remember the old days of AOL Instant Messenger, or even better,  the days of dial-up, yes I mean that AOL dial up, remember that? Now, we have have people who “write code” for a living. And their  “code writes code” automatically, at the speed of light, and synthesizes large amounts of user data from Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media platforms in just a couple lines of code. Whatever that means.

Have we even realized the extent to which technology has affected our lives? For example, have you ever browsed online shopping. You see something that you really like and click on it. You go back and forth debating whether to purchase it or not. You decide not to buy it but the next day you go on Facebook and that item is staring right at you and it is being advertised with a discount. This is Facebook’s turn to AI.  Not only is privacy over but technology has even invaded advertising and marketing AND it’s good at it.

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Five years ago, Facebook announced the Open Compute hardware initiative which saved them more than $2 billion from its investments. More recently, after Facebook rebuilt the hardware industry they set out to discover what kind of content should be served in the millions of users’ newsfeeds. They recently created an internal platform called the Machine Learning platform which is a type of Artificial Intelligence. In simpler words, this algorithm could tell if people were conservative or liberal, ok not that hard, or if they were gay or straight. Definitely harder. They brought close attention to this type of online advertising called retargeting. Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is able to keep your brand in front of the customer and out of bounced traffic, after they leave your website. Retargeting has become a very successful over recent years.

According to a post in CMO, primary site retargeting goals have increased brand revenue and acquired new customers by 33% in addition to increasing site engagement by 16% and brand awareness by 12%.   

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However, if you start to think of our activity online as just a collection of clicks and mouse movements, then artificial intelligence doesn’t even need to be all that intelligent to just keep track and tallies of our behaviors online.

Our individual psychologies that motivate what we do or click on, become checks in a column for the AI system. It may sound reductive but then again, it’s obviously extremely effective.

Another example of how Facebook’s use of AI has made a prominent influence was in this past American presidential election. This was because in its domination of social media, Facebook’s newsfeed had become a primary news outlet for most people, especially millennials. Their use of AI is highly curated to the user by algorithms self designed by a summary of their clicks, likes, and behavior. This raised the critical question about when news becomes marketing and marketing becomes reality. What started off years ago as just simply a recommendation on a pair shoes has become something as powerful as swaying an election.