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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
9/26/2016 8:21:39 AM
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Platinum
With a foot on three stools ...
Credentials: 1) I've written a lot of fiction, it was my main source of income for a long time.  2)I'm retraining in data science and have had some fairly heavy-duty coursework in machine learning. 3) Way back when I was a theatre professor and taught a lot of general humanities, and my academic area was theatre history, aka what was popular a long time ago.

So here's where Netflix is setting themselves up to get rolled someday: most of the time, people want predictability. The great majority of stories sold in all media are nothing new.  Furthermore, most of the time, things creep away from diversity.  For example, in 1959, Westerns and prime time game shows accounted for a majority of entertainment programming. Over time content becomes more and more routinized; the later members of a genre have a huge number of mandatory tropes.

However, there's a logical dynamic: the more routinized the popular genres get and the more rigid the routines become, and the more those genres take up audience space, the more you build up people who want to enjoy something unlike anything they've ever seen before, and who are prepared to enjoy just about anything different and oddball enough.  (You could call that hipsterization.)

Add to that the tendency for people to use entertainment consumption as a way to differentiate themselves from other people.  (Not a new phenomenon; look up the riots that erupted around Hernani and Ruy Blas or The Firebird). 


I can see how machine learning could produce low-level novelty -- "hey, there's only one Western in the lineup but it's drawing its few fans like crazy" -- and might be able to find something like, say, Star Trek or other "sleeper" hits, eventually.  But I think all that does is build up a deeper demand for greater novelty.  Sooner or later you get an explosive birth of a whole new genre, and if Netflix can't find it, it will clobber them (until there's enough data for them to routinize it, and start the cycle over!)

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
9/26/2016 8:06:51 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Netflix Learned to Read Your Mind
ElizabethV,

Reading other people is even hard for other people, and we all guess wrong all the time.  Over the weekend I saw a marvelous panel cartoon: couple sitting on a park bench. 

Guy: "Well, I kind of feel like it's time to get -- "

Girl: "YES! I will marry you!"

Guy: ".... coffee."

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
9/26/2016 8:04:23 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
afwriter,

"Yet" is a very small distinction.

Also for good or ill, to "control" anything as self-wiled, flexible, and complex as a human, Neflix's machine intelligence has to be remarkably responsive; it's like working with a bird dog (the dog finds the birds but you're the one that decides to hunt and whether to shoot) or riding a horse (things generally work better if you and the horse achieve an agreement about what should be happening).

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elizabethv
elizabethv
9/26/2016 1:03:37 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Netflix Learned to Read Your Mind
@mpouraryan - that's an interesting comparrison. Yet with Google "reading your mind" on what question you're going to ask, while I do agree they do tend to be right, there have been times where I've found them completely off-base too. And while I might be kind of accepting of Netflix "reading my mind" to some extent when they are right, if they get it wrong a few too many times, I'll either figure out a way to bypass the feature completely, or, like you suggested, leave Netflix as a whole. As much as that would hurt.

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mpouraryan
mpouraryan
9/25/2016 8:31:18 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Netflix Learned to Read Your Mind
I don't view as being "courageous" but smart business--and part of the progress that can't be stopped despite all that our inherent fears as I noted in response to another comment on 4K TV to John--we're already here--For those using Google Inbox, For instance, it is already smart enough to anticipate your answer--so it is not just "The movies"...is it?    

Fascinating times..right? 

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freehe
freehe
9/25/2016 2:59:07 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Netflix Learned to Read Your Mind
It is very courageous of Netflix to think they can read a customer's mind. IoT data will allow Netflix to make good guesses about what certain customers want to view - a population that watches the same TV show each week or the same type of movies.

However, for customers who like variety and watch a variety of TV shows and movies, this feature will not work and will be a waste of time and resources.

In addition, only some customers like the video playing automatically feature. I dislike the feature and would find a way to disable it.

People has unique tastes and interests and no matter how much data they analyze Netflix will never be able to capture each person's unique interests.

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freehe
freehe
9/25/2016 2:55:58 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
@afwriter. I agree.

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mpouraryan
mpouraryan
9/25/2016 10:32:20 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
One can always choose not to have Netflix--we have to make sure that we do our part to retain control.    What I would be curious to see is how Netflix fares as they are trying to do "the thinking for us" on October 17 when they're due to announce their results.  So far, as of Friday, their stock is trading in a narrow range.

 

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elizabethv
elizabethv
9/25/2016 1:18:36 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
@mpouraryan - Amazon and even Netflix both recommend movies based on your previous selections. That is already here. And I'm fine with that, in most cases both have done a fair job of recommending movies I find at least remotely interesting. But there are still choices. A list for you to scroll through of a few things you might possibly like. From my understanding, this new model would aim to have the one perfect movie available for you to watch right when you want it. For me, that's an end game changer I have no interest in. My husband doesn't even know me well enough to typically pick the one exact thing I want the exact moment I want it. Except for Twix, you can bet I almost always am okay with having a Twix. But what I want to watch? I want choices. Right now I have 7 different movies downloaded to my phone to watch while I'm at work tonight. Which ones I'll actually watch? I don't even know that yet. That a computer could tell me that, that's a little too much like the Matrix for my tastes. 

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mpouraryan
mpouraryan
9/24/2016 4:43:07 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Interesting
It is up to us to be able to make sure we retain control--why this is not in fact possible is a dilemma I think about all the time.    

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