I still get why this is an interesting result, though. And if Scott thinks that lower bounds are achievable he is probably right.
That fine line between genius and insanity, it really does exist. I'm not saying that because I think I'm a genius. Just, for some people, the only things that 'ground' us are things that are abstract (I say this with great awareness of the irony).
Trying to make the pieces fit with the world, that's sometimes hard. You can throw the whole understanding you've built in the garbage, but then you lose yourself, and, I dunno. I don't think it's desperation for attention. I think it's a compulsion for things to make sense, because, a chaotic world. Some things just have to make sense.
I do like them when they actually yield a correct product that is coming from informed consumers. I waste less money that way as a consumer. I'm talking mainly about books and art supplies here, that's pretty much what I've used them for. Makeup too, but that one, lots of money wasted because the beauty industry is it's own insane beast of navigating trends.
I don't like them when they are manipulated by additional entities to dilute the quality of recommendation, and I think honestly this was the reason for their initial creation. But, open system, many recommendation engines work great so long as the consumer base follows the rules. The more lucrative it gets, the more layers of reasoning you need (to compete against bad actors diluting the data quality). The more layers, the greater the need for computational speed.
Worthy problem, worthless problem, I don't really know. I know the people working on this stuff aren't necessarily the ones inventing the problems. It's more that the original intent has been corrupted, and that makes some people unhappy. So, people work on fixing the problems.
The practical implications of this algorithm are just a side note for many of the people working on this research.
Agreed, which makes better curation all the more important - if there was enough time to watch more than a tiny fraction of what's out there then recommendation would matter less.
> I still listen to the recommended lists, but they rarely compete with simply hanging out with cool friends and seeing what they're listening to.
Doesn't that very fact prove that there's plenty of room for improvement in recommended lists?
No, this does not automatically follow, there could be other situations that provide the same given but don't lead to that conclusion. For example, the value of lists provided by friends could be a purely emotional one: The items on the list seem better because your friends love them, and you like them more because you can discuss them later.
Define "value to society"
I will start by saying that HFT firms employ people, gives them jobs, purpose, and most importantly, a pay check. This in turn generates tax revenue for any government and society. Your turn.
That's putting the cart before the horse. People get a sense of purpose and a paycheck from a job because jobs are generally providing value to society - the money ultimately comes from people who get value from what they do paying it. If the money is coming from a government regulation rather than because people actually want to buy what they're selling, it's a make-work scheme, not a business.
The sub-penny rule is, essentially, a tax on investors that is then handed to the winners of a mostly-meaningless competition. You could equally take the same tax on investors and hand the money to whoever dug the longest ditch (or whatever) and that would "employ people, gives them jobs, purpose, and most importantly, a pay check", but that wouldn't be contributing anything valuable to society either.
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,"
My most memorable/saddening adaption of that is from an early Facebook employee:
"The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,"
From personal experience, I've had to work on numerous applications that I didn't really care for but provided me with the funding to actually pursue my research.
On another note, the subject matter Ewin & Professor Aaronson are talking about is pretty complex even for the average CompSci person; I'd wager if there was no mention of a corporate entity or real-world example this article would be met with so many questions about its applications to those same real-world problems.
Rant concluded :P