Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Online Purchases Can Give You Away

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the the-internet-never-forgets-my-birthday dept.

The Internet 243

Abhishek writes "New Scientist reports that Retailers could guess your age, sex, birthday and wedding anniversary simply from the types of gifts purchased for you online and their timing, according to a patent granted to online retail giant, Amazon. The information could be used to remind your loved ones of an impending special occasion and offer gift suggestions. Currently Amazon makes personalised suggestions to customers based on previous purchases by that customer, previous web pages browsed and comparisons between customers who have bought similar products. But the company may vastly increase its predictive capability in the future."

cancel ×

243 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

This just in: (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11960994)

Demographics can be reversed!

Re:This just in: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961057)

Demographics can be reversed!

Scihpargomed?

Re:This just in: (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961148)

Hey! Keep your hands to yourself.

Re:This just in: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961309)

Were you hoping that would be funny?

I Just Ate At Wendy's (1)

Ads are broken (718513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11960996)

It was frickin' great!

Re:I Just Ate At Wendy's (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961453)

I know. I'm a fat ugly pale-white US-American, too.

F4G0+535

A little intrusive if you ask me (3, Interesting)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11960998)

The patent describes software that automatically guesses when a gift is being purchased by extracting key words such as "birthday" or "anniversary" from an attached message. It might also note details such as the fact that the buyer has asked it to be gift wrapped or that the recipient address is different from the purchaser address, according to the patent, which was granted on 8 March.
And people screamed over Google's ads with Gmail.

Most worrying is that the patent appears to target children, says Karen Coyle of the public interest alliance Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility in Berkeley, California.
Isn't their a law regarding this? Something about consent from a parent if the child is 13 or younger?

According to Amazon spokesperson Patty Smith, based in Seattle, Washington, these worries are "a little premature and a bit speculative". She adds that the company has no plans to implement the technology at present.
For now.

Re:A little intrusive if you ask me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961256)

That's the thing...they'll be able to tell if you're over 13 or if they need the consent from account XYZXYZ (legal guardian) first.

God I hope I'm kidding.

Does that take into account... (5, Funny)

Kimos (859729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961003)

... that if it's from a man it's probably being given/ordered late?

Re:Does that take into account... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961067)

it's actually easier: it's not ordered late BUT on that same day, early in the morning

Can it tell if you are gay? (4, Funny)

davew666 (555119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961004)

Stop buying me those Barbra Streisand DVDs for God's sake!

Re:Can it tell if you are gay? (2, Funny)

mbrewthx (693182) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961062)

I buy Cher you insensitive clod!!!!

Re:Can it tell if you are gay? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961189)

No but it can tell if you have no taste.

Hey! (5, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961012)

Amazon.com: "It's time to purchase Rocco's true anal stories 29!"
Wife: "WTF?"

Re:Hey! (0, Redundant)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961037)

Or

Amazon.com: "Time to get Gay Love Stories 9!"
Mother: "WTF?"

Re:Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961380)

Somebody set up us the homosexuality!!

Too Bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961019)

It's too bad Amazon and other online retailers don't use F/OSS software. If they did, it would be GUARANTEED that this type of thing wouldn't happen!

Re:Too Bad (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961042)

This has got to be the most bizarre attempt at trolling ever.

*Puts on his tin foil hat* (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961022)

OH MY GOD!! They can find out my BIRTHDAY!! My ANNIVERSARY!! I demand PRIVACY!! Boycot RETAILERS!!

This just in: you're not important enough for anyone to give a rat's ass about you.

Re:*Puts on his tin foil hat* (3, Funny)

cot (87677) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961065)

This is why when I feel like making an online purchase, I catalog all offered items from a particular retailer, use a random number generator to pick one from the list, and finally have it sent to a completely random address.

Sure, I'm paying for random crap for people I don't even know, but let's see them find a pattern in that!

Re:*Puts on his tin foil hat* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961372)

Sure, I'm paying for random crap for people I don't even know, but let's see them find a pattern in that!

Pedophile who buys cam-whores items from their wishlists, in a not-so-subtle attempt to get them to strip for him?

Re:*Puts on his tin foil hat* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961115)

No, you're not. But the money in you pocket is worth throwing a few cpu cycles at acquiring, which is why they've come up with an automated system here instead of hiring lifestyle consultants to evaluate your purchase history.

Re:*Puts on his tin foil hat* (0)

Ced_Ex (789138) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961119)

I just knew something was suspicious when they had strange deals out when I buy Christmas gifts, then I hear about this!

I want my privacy back!

This could be fun! (2, Funny)

spyder913 (448266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961030)

All you have to do is buy 'inappropriate' gifts for your friends and it'll keep suggesting more of them!

It'll still make them happy (1)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961362)

All you have to do is buy 'inappropriate' gifts for your friends and it'll keep suggesting more of them!

As long as your credit card isn't declined, they'll still be happy. They don't care why you're buying more just as long as they do. Either way the new system is doing it's job (getting the money from yours).

No kidding.... (1)

wpiman (739077) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961036)

Stop the presses.... people who are newlyweds buy more gifts for one another than old married couples....

Re:No kidding.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961207)

They have more sex too.

Slow Down Cowboy!
Yes /. that's what she said.

And as we can See.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961040)

Your purchases of:
1. Childrens clothing (young female)
2. Childrens Videos (Mecha fighting robots IV)
3. 'Fairy' Wand
4. 'Young Princess' wings and headband.

Indicate that you are a 40yr old Male, Single... probably naked right now...

Re:And as we can See.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961341)

Or maybe Michael Jackson.....

Costs vs. Benefits (4, Insightful)

AthenianGadfly (798721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961045)

I wonder if the potential benefits would outway the possible embarrassments - I can think of lots of cases where a wrong guess could alienate customers, from reminding you to purchase a birthday gift for a loved one who has passed on to assuming someone is older than they really are. I wonder how good the software is and how subtly their guesses will be manifested to the customer.

It won't work (5, Interesting)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961299)

I had a similar experience with HP. Somehow I got subscribed to a newsletter from visiting their website. It was mostly worthless, but I'd scan them every once in a while to keep up with their products and things.

After a time the newsletter was re-vamped, and I got something saying they would now be suggesting articles and things to based on my "preferences". Somehow I remember it was an exciting new HP AI technology they were testing, and HP would be offering it to their business customers.

At first, the suggested articles weren't very "personalized" and wading through a bunch of suggested articles that seemed to have nothing to do with my interests made me want to unsubscribe.

All of a sudden, though, I began getting suggested articles like "Don't you think Linux sucks? Click here to read more" that would actually link to articles on the HP website talking about how Windows had a better ROI or something. Although the articles were real, the "suggestions" that pointed to the articles were obviously computer generated or pieced together from a list of pre-generated phrases.

Needless to say, I've since unsubscribed to this most unhelpful service. I'd like to take this opportunity to give an obligatory "fuck you, Carly".

Re:Costs vs. Benefits (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961390)

I suspect that they will pick a pretty high threshold before they send you anything adult that isn't scientific literature.

a patent on guessing.... sweet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961047)

welcome back fred,

from your [and your wife's] recent purchases we think you may like the following recommendations:

Marriage on the Rocks [Book]
Cheaters [DVD]

Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, to (4, Interesting)

H0NGK0NGPH00EY (210370) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961054)

Safeway has been doing this for years. Some friends of ours got a card in the mail shortly after they had a baby, congratulating them on their new addition, and offering them these fine baby products, available at Safeway. A year later they got a "happy birthday" card for the baby with some coupons and such.

Re:Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, (4, Funny)

datastalker (775227) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961195)

Not only that, but try ordering a gift subscription of "Zoobooks" for someone else's kids. I now get mail for every child's product under the sun. I'm single, and childless, and it's annoying.

However, it's only slightly less annoying than the mailing list I'm on where they've confused me with my Dad, and I get AARP and health care mail all the time.

Put them together, and somewhere, there's a database that thinks I'm a 70 year old that's having tons of kids.

Re:Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, (1)

yRabbit (625397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961278)

About a week ago, out of the blue, I received an ad for some sort of lawn-care product, get a green lawn, that sort of stuff.
Curious.
Um, I just live here, I don't own the property or house or car or anything.

Re:Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961267)

Some friends of ours got a card in the mail shortly after they had a baby

Many doctors & hospitals sell this info to any marketer.

Another common marketer is a 3rd-party picture or video service in the hospital. New parents buy pictures for friends & relatives, not knowing that they're going to be marketed to death. It is even in the fine print of some of these contracts.

Re:Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961274)

A year later they got a "happy birthday" card for the baby with some coupons and such.

I've heard of these cards arriving to parents of a baby who died. That's gotta suck.

Re:Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, (4, Funny)

michael.creasy (101034) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961368)

I ordered a gift from Victoria's Secret once. Now they send me their catalogues all the time. I really don't mind.

Re:Brick & Mortar purchases can give you away, (4, Interesting)

segoy (641704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961448)

My dot-com experience was with a company that administers a loyalty program. We would collect data from all of our partner businesses, and attach them to persons using the credit card numbers.

From there we had simple heuristics to look for paterns (activity at a catering establishment and a purchase at a bridal shop?) and sell these profiles back to partner businesses for targeted advertisement.

Outside of only paying in cash, and never using your legitimate information except where absolutely essential, I can't see much way to avoid it. Way things are going, it'll only get worse unless we enact legislation to prohibit that kind of activity.

Spam anyone? (2, Insightful)

kryogen1x (838672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961056)

Amazon would remind potential gift purchasers by sending them emails or an alert when they log on to the website.

I hope they make this service optional.

You can waste this time guessing.. (4, Insightful)

yuriismaster (776296) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961058)

... Or just ask them. As long as retailers don't ask for my social security number or other vital information, I don't mind giving up my gender, zip code, or whatever.

I know the power of data collection, and how it can influence markets. If a bunch of /.ers visited Amazon and said "Hey, I'm a [computer|history|physics] geek" then I'm sure Amazon of all people would go: "Hey, let's pitch him SnowClash, Digital Fortress, or tech books."

I personally don't want my potential anniversary date posted online (I have a female compatriot, just happen to be 17), but hell, if Amazon is willing to say "Hey numnuts, your anniversary is in a week. You better get her something!" then I'd be glad.

--

Help a poor high-schooler? [freeminimacs.com]

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (1)

ThisNukes4u (752508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961108)

Wait a second...

You have a girlfriend and you're posting on Slashdot? What is wrong with this picture?

I just couldn't resist.

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961129)

Come to think of it, if I spend my time buying nothing but anime and porn online, how can it tell if I'm 18 at college, or 42 living in my parent's basement?

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961446)

By the shipping address, of course.

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (1, Interesting)

yuriismaster (776296) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961191)

I knew in my head this was the first thing someone would reply with.

Yes it is possible to

A: Have a girlfriend who is relatively attractive (No, no pictures for you ;) )
B: Be the school's 'techie'
C: Regularly visit Slashdot and have positive Karma!

My quick advices:

1. Find some common ground that doesnt involve tech (unless you find a tech-girl to snag, but there's bound to be competition). Me and my g/f met at the movie theatre where we both used to work. Free movies allowed us time to discover eachother and provided a really cheap date, considering we both snuck in concessions...

2. Don't be afraid to flaunt your tech just a little. Talking in Java is a bad idea, but being a little helpful once in a while really works charms. If your potential interest has a Bluetooth phone, send them a quick "Lookin good today" address card followed by a hug once she gets the puzzled look on her face. Something to that effect, if used sparsely, is a real lady-killer.

3. Proper hygiene is realllllly important. I used to be dirty and smelly, but once I started showering regularly and using cologne, my mate was hooked.

4. (and most important) Just be yourself. Most male geeks have the concentrated puzzle-solving look on their eyes when learning a new language or tackling a problem. My g/f finds that incredibly cute.

I know this is a bit of a ramble and majorly O/T, but hey, I smell "Informative".

--

Help a poor high-schooler? [freeminimacs.com]

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961251)

wow, whatever you do, don't become a psychiatrist...

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961308)

Ow. Just ow.

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961412)

Wow ... cool! I'll take your advice when I turn 17!!!1 LOL OMGWTFBBQ

Random out-of-context quote from parent (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961314)

I don't mind giving up my gender

Hehehehehehehehe

Re:You can waste this time guessing.. (2, Interesting)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961337)

I personally don't want my potential anniversary date posted online

Of all the pieces of information that were listed, I would think this would be the least controversial. After all, a wedding is a public event, and your anniversary is part of the public record.

Incidently, in most states your social security number is right there on your marriage license and is also part of the public record. So if you think it's a big deal for someone to get your SSN, think again.

Amazing. (3, Informative)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961061)

Combine this with Geo-Targeting [geobytes.com] and it's amazing to know what web sites can find out about you without your consent.

It's like an involuntary a/s/l check from web sites you visit.

Re:Amazing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961371)

Combine this with Geo-Targeting and it's amazing to know what web sites can find out about you without your consent.

Yeah, cause they won't be able to figure out your address from the address you give them when you buy the stuff.

Re:Amazing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961441)

From the summary:

Currently Amazon makes personalised suggestions to customers based on previous purchases by that customer, previous web pages browsed and comparisons between customers who have bought similar products.

Nice attempt at sarcasm, but it would've been better if you were right. If you re-read the emboldened section you'll see that you don't have to purchase a thing for them to start a dossier on you.

Re:Amazing. (1)

hhawk (26580) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961396)

And I have heard of someone buying some Military themed book on Amazon for an Uncle and then every time they log in, trying tos sell them books about war, which they had no interest in..

...and you don't own who you are (1)

Chalst (57653) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961063)

Schneier's observations in ChoicePoint Says "Please Regulate Me" [schneier.com] are very much to the point.

And in the US you have no data protection rights. California's laws are advanced for f***'s sake!

And some people... (2, Insightful)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961068)

Some people give away the information voluntarily like in a wedding or baby registry.

Re:And some people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961224)

Hmmm "baby registry", and where may I obtain this
"b a b y"?

wow (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961070)

make a post:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=142544&cid=1 19 47566

and see a story appear on /. the next day!

can we make them stop ? (5, Funny)

Eternally optimistic (822953) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961074)

If someone buys a casket for you, will they stop spamming you ?

Why guess when you can ask (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961079)

Why doesn't Amazon just create a new service where user can enter the birthday and anniversaries of their loved one. I'm sure people who always forget important date will use it. You could also extends that to make suggestion based on past gift purchased for those people. My point is why do they want to do this the sneaky way when you can simply ask user for it.

Re:Why guess when you can ask (2, Informative)

SandiConoverJones (821221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961208)

Amazon already asks if you wish to receive reminder notices for events. If you make a profile, you can choose to get such notices. "Special Occasion Reminders" are listed under "Gift Services"

Actually, after browsing Amazon a bit too much over a period of years, they give me some excellent suggestions. Their predictive lists are good. I shop for me, and a husband, and 4 boys, so I suppose that anything that they list would hit one of us. I have eclectic interests, and vacillate from one hobby to another and back again. They always pop up with something that I gasp, "Ohhh! I want THAT!"

Wow! (2, Funny)

OccidentalSlashy (809265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961090)

I, for one, welcome a new endless flood of redundant jokes.

Of course this is done, but how well? (1)

Georules (655379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961093)

Sadly, TFA does not talk about accuracy of this very much. There is one blip at the end that talks about a function not dealing with Amazon at all. I "can guess" the age of everyone who reads this post, how right I will be is another story.

Insulting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961094)

I think a stranger guessing your age, sex, etc based on what others purchased for you and then acting on it can be pretty insulting. I don't see this fake patent having much value.

Previous art exists (4, Informative)

houghi (78078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961100)

The patent describes software that automatically guesses ...

I got birthdaycards from several companies who also guessed my birthday by looking in the database. Also some emails from companies that did the same.

Re:Previous art exists (1)

Lurkey Turkey (830719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961284)

And that is why I only use my first initial (sometimes x, y, or z just for MY tracking purposes!) and when a form insists on entering my birth year, I start with 1900 and work my way up until it accepts it. I've also used phony addresses, zip codes, etc. It's kinda fun to think of how many data miners have struck lead (the Plum Bums!)

Porno (1)

KennyP (724304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961101)

What demographic group does that put me in, other than being a typical /.er?

Visualize Whirled P.'s

Re:Porno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961374)

What demographic group does that put me in, other than being a typical /.er?


I dunno.. but in the database I found:

One Swedish made penis enlarger pump, sold to KennyP

One book..

Sources of information... (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961114)

Well, I guess they *could* infer all sorts of things. However. it's nothing like the red light cameras they've now got set up on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

I mean, have you ever gotten a picture of yourself running a red light while picking your nose?

Not a thing for a jury trial. Believe me.

I guess we will all strive to be like Data. (2, Funny)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961130)

Data: I wish to buy a selenium-based epoxy for repairing Spot's dinner plate. Make it quick as I'm in a temporal zone.

Amazon 2501: I'm sorry, I'm not able to profile you. Please fill out these forms so we can get to know you better and allow the purchase to flow quicker (wink wink).

Data: I'm an android. I have no data profile that you can use.

Amazon 2501: Drat.

Re:I guess we will all strive to be like Data. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961150)

Wow, you are a giant nerd. A flaming nerd.

Re:I guess we will all strive to be like Data. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961261)

This is SLASHDOT

Re:I guess we will all strive to be like Data. (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961375)

"Wow, you are a giant nerd. A flaming nerd." ... said the guy using the internet to register his complaint about nerds for the entire world to see.

i bet it'd make for some interesting statistics.. (1)

evilmousse (798341) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961159)


like least accurately predicted demographic..

women who buy anime?

fat 60 year old male sailormoon fans?

hunter s thompson?

My dealer used to have a similar system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961168)

It was scary. Knew your name. Knew whenever you had some extra money. And always offered gift suggestions. "People who purchased the Skunky Buds also recommended: Bathtub Krank, Black Dust, Nembutal."

Shows what they know! (4, Funny)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961178)

They dont have me! I don't have a wife or a girlfriend hahahahaha!!!

Haha!
Ha...

ha...

Oh. Dammit. I don't 'any' either.

I want to change demographics now.

As we can see... (1)

darthgnu (866920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961181)

...users are once again the victims of a braindead patent system. Personal information and software are too things that get very ugly real quick when patents get in the way.

As long as they don't use the "Clippy" interface (4, Funny)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961188)

It looks like you forgot your anniversary again! Would you like to:

1. Buy an expensive gift?

2. Buy a really expensive gift?

3. Spend $50 for the special "have the invoice dated last week" HubbySaver(tm) feature?

4. Cringe in abject terror?

5. Sleep on the couch?


New kind of form letter (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961197)

Dear short, fat, balding, over-the-hill, poorly-dressed, divorced and lonely couch-potato. We have some wonderful discounts to fit in with your special life-style....

This is a huge waste of energy and time... (1)

Taiq (846517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961213)

WHY would they want to know these things?

Title is misleading (2, Interesting)

cloudkj (685320) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961222)

*ANY* type of consumer activity can give you away. If you shop at a brick-and-mortar store, it's the same thing. I think this is what the future is moving towards anyway. If you've seen the movie Minority Report, you'll remember when Tom Cruise's character goes into a Gap and an automatic personalized greeting is given to him, with information about his past purchases. It's just a matter of time before full personalization like that catches on. Granted, it has privacy issues, but the orignal poster is making it sound like Amazon is evil, when such systems show up elsewhere as well.

Re:Title is misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961324)

Which is why granting a patent on this obvious idea (and the even more obvious let's implement the obvious idea in software) is absurd. I think you really can patent breathing if you are a big enough corporation with lots of money to spend on lawyering. USPTO just doesn't seem to give a damn anymore.

Shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11961234)

It's my anniversary!

Just more marketroid pidgeon holing (5, Interesting)

MCTFB (863774) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961244)

If you read the article a little deeper, the general idea is that the software system described is used to guess the purchasing habits of friends and family based on stereotypes derived from information gathered from these messages.

This is no different than someone assuming that if you are some random black guy who happens to like rap music that if you send a message to another friend with the keyword "rap" that it assumes that the recipient of that message must also like rap music.

When marketroids are allowed to segment human beings into every imaginable stereotypical group they can think of, it may be useful for making those advertising dollars a little more efficient, but the cost to society is huge in that people stop sharing similarities as they are encouraged to go retreat to their own little islands of likeminded thinkers.

It is almost like politics in America right now, where pollsters and political pundits have managed to reprogram much of the American electorate into foolishly believing that they are part of some narrowly defined group like the "religious right", or "extreme left" or that they are a "Reagan Republican" or a "NASCAR Dad".

So, instead of society being encouraged to try to create art, ideas, products, services, government programs, etc. which try to serve the public good in a general way, the only thing you see nowadays is ridiculous levels of customization in everything around us that divide people rather than unite them.

It is like people can now go to whatever news outlet they want whether it be the Communist Broadcasting Service or Fox News not to get an objective view on what goes on around the world, but rather to hear news with a distinct political spin to make themselves feel better about "being right" when it comes to their position on any given issue.

This is just another step in the corporatization of America where people voluntarily give up their freedom and rational minds by being fooled into believing that allowing corporations to create a virtual caste system through modern marketing methods is actually a good thing.

In Capitalist America... (0)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961276)

In Capitalist America, birthday presnt gives away YOU!

I'm buying... (5, Funny)

CrayHill (703411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961280)

I'm buying Christmas cards tomorrow....


...that'll throw them off my trail...

Why even bother? (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961283)

You can just call up ChoicePoint and get all the data you want.

I hope they do better... (1)

gkuz (706134) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961290)

But the company may vastly increase its predictive capability in the future.

I once bought a music theory book on Amazon. Shortly afterward, it recommended to me, on the basis of that purchase, that I buy the book called "Maestro" (Bob Woodward's book about Alan Greenspan.)

Well, I thought it was funny.

Re:I hope they do better... (3, Interesting)

back_pages (600753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961457)

Before Christmas Amazon had the "gold box" recommendation thing (I think it was in beta). It would have 10 special offers just for me like once a week. It was so hilarious that I would wait till my friends were around to see what they suggested.

I usually had 2 different pairs of gold earrings, at least 4 kitchen appliances (the most obscure you could think of - stuff like spice grinders and $250 coffee makers), and a power tool (usually a router or circular saw). They were all SO random that we were making drinking bets and stuff on what would come up next.

I see that Amazon seems to have discontinued that service... wonder why.

Been there, done that... (1)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961312)

Does a story [bcgreen.com] count as prior art? Arthur C. Clarke did it with waterbeds and geosynchronous satellites.

Uh-Oh... (1)

jpiggot (800494) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961326)

Hmmmm...this explains why Amazon looked at my previous purchases (rubber tubing, astro-glide, book on "Feeding Your Pet Goat, handcuffs, black vinyl mask) and sent the police to pay me a visit.

Damn e-commerce ! (shakes fist at the sky)

Thoughtful giftgiving is out the window (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961365)

This is terrific! In the future, companies won't even ask you to pick a gift for your loved ones, they will just automatically charge your card for an item that the database assumes your loved one wants and just sends it to them. You don't even have to be a part of the process anymore, let alone spend time getting to know your loved ones and what they want. Woohoo!

This is not bad news (1)

bananahead (829691) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961370)

Amazon has always impressed me with their recommendations based on my prior purchases, as well as their 'Others who bought this also bought these' suggestions. I have always felt like it was like having a store clerk along with you that would actually shut up and go away if I tired of them. I personally like this touch, as I sometimes am just impulse shopping and looking for something to read. NetFlix does the same thing, suggestions based on prior viewings and ratings. WHY IS THIS BAD? Answer: it isn't, except to those wacko aholes that seem to object to anything that might somehow 'infringe' on their personal space. I say bullshit. If you don't like it, don't use it, or even better, don't use the site that offends you. Then go get a membership to the ACLU so you can object to EVERYTHING all of the time. If technology is working to make my life easier, I like it. As long as there is an opt-out method somewhere, I find it hard that anyone can object to this sort of stuff. Hell, execs pay big money for personal shoppers that remind them about upcoming events that might require a gift. They love it. Email coming in that says 'HEY STOOPID, IT'S YOUR SISTERS BIRTHDAY! She likes the following stuff... You want it gift wrapped?' This is all good in my opinion.

hah! I'll show them (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961402)

Hah! I'll show them. Little do they know I don't buy anniversary presents!

Just today I trimmed the recommendation sources (1)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961406)

I hit their site, bunch of book listings shoved in my face. I noticed a "Why was this recommended?" link above each entry. Based on a record of my past searches, it decided I was "interested". I removed each entry.

Got a generic page, with Harry Potter and..."On Bullshit" http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0691 122946/qid=1111027850/sr=8-2/ref=pd_csp_2/102-7806 153-5984110?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Presumably because of my penchant for fsking with busybody datamining/privacy invading outfits. Pretty clever.

Patent??? (1)

Davidge (71204) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961437)

WTF? How is Statistical Data Analysis a patentable process ?

For crying out loud, it's basic mathematics and data mining, not some new inventive device/process.

Amazon.com's intelligence... (1)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961450)

Currently Amazon makes personalised suggestions to customers based on previous purchases by that customer, previous web pages browsed and comparisons between customers who have bought similar products.

So when it says, since the purchase of the Linksys 54G Wireless Router, your recommendation is this lovely 4 slot extra-wide toaster, it wasn't being sarcastic, but was actually serious?

I get the craziest recommendations some times, including tons of jewelry and kitchen appliances which I never even visit on the Amazon store. If they screw easy recommendations like that up, I wonder how messed up they'll be guessing my age, sex, birthday, etc...

Look on the bright side (4, Interesting)

Repton (60818) | more than 9 years ago | (#11961488)

I think we're all missing something important, here: It's a patent.

This means that ONLY Amazon is allowed to ruthlessly invade your privacy.

So all you have to do is not shop at Amazon and you'll be safe from the data miners forever!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>