Have you chatted with a friend about buying a particular item and targeted the next day with an ad for that same item? If so, you may be wondering if your smartphone is “listening” to you. But what really? Well, it’s no coincidence that the item you’re interested in was targeted at you. But that doesn’t mean your device is actually listening to your conversations – it doesn’t need to. You already have a good chance of providing all the information it needs.
Most of us regularly publish our information on a wide range of websites and applications. We do this when we grant them certain permissions or provide “cookies” to track our online activities. So-called “first-party cookies” allow websites to “remember” certain details about our interactions with the Site. For example, login cookies allow you to save your login details so you don’t have to re-enter them every time.
Third-party cookies are created by domains that are external to the site you are visiting. A third party can often be a marketing company that partners with a first party website or app. The latter will host marketer ads and allow access to the data you collect (which will allow you to do this – perhaps by clicking on some innocent looking popups).
Like this, advertisers can create a picture of your life: your routines, wants and needs. These companies constantly try to judge the popularity of their product and how it depends on factors such as a customer’s age, gender, height, weight, job and hobbies. By categorizing and clustering this information, advertisers improve their recommendation algorithms and use what they call referral systems to target the right customers with the right ads.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a number of machine-learning techniques that help systems filter and analyze your data, such as data clustering, classification, association, and retrieval learning (RL). An RL agent can train itself based on feedback from user interactions, such as how a young child will be led to a reward if they learn to repeat an action.
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