When algorithms go bad: Zillow, Amazon, Facebook and the pitfalls of rampant automation

GeekWire Illustration

The downfall of Zillow’s iBuying business is a reminder of the downsides of relying too much on automation and machine learning algorithms at this stage in the evolution of technology.

On this episode of the GeekWire Podcast, a conversation about the pitfalls of real estate valuations leads John Cook and me into a larger discussion about the continued importance of human judgment and attention in the modern world.

Plus, cat vs. coyote: the crazy scene on my Ring camera this week. 

And in our final segment, we test a new feature: Tech Crank, in which we each offer a rant about something irksome in the tech world this week.

Listen below, subscribe in any podcast app, and continue reading for links to the stories we discuss.

  • Why the iBuying algorithms failed Zillow, and what it says about the business world’s love affair with AI
  • Redfin CEO explains how its iBuyer home buying program avoided pitfalls that sunk Zillow Group
  • NYT: Inside Amazon’s Worst Human Resources Problem
  • Bloomberg: Highly Paid Union Workers Give UPS a Surprise Win in Delivery Wars
  • Forget porch pirates, our Ring camera captured video of a cat escaping a coyote in Seattle
  • Amazon-backed electric vehicle maker Rivian races to huge stock market debut after IPO
  • Microsoft serves up a Google Chromebook rival with $250 Surface Laptop SE for students

Podcast produced by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell

See also  The new frontiers of AI and robotics, with CMU computer science dean Martial Hebert
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