Over the last few years, algorithms have gotten a bad wrap. When the technological landscape first started to change in the early 2000s, and then again but more drastically in the 2010s, it was exciting to think that these platforms and devices would make our lives easier. However, once people realized the dominating role algorithms were playing, they became the enemy rather than a helping hand. The question of security and privacy surpassed any good algorithms had previously done.
Perhaps this is the truest when it comes to various social media algorithms, which predict posts based on relevancy and what it thinks your interests are. On paper, this sounds like a good thing. Why waste your time scrolling through dozens of options when the first one you see can be the one you wanted? It is only until you start questioning the security around it that you start to change your mind.
Don’t Feel Discouraged, Algorithms Aren’t All Bad
Fortunately, not all algorithms are being used to feed the machine we call capitalism. Some of them are there to help you, especially when it comes to the sports industry, and notably, sports betting. Some of the oldest sports in the world, such as horse racing and football/soccer, have undergone changes in how fans and spectators wager on events, and one of the best things to happen to the industry has been its use of algorithms.
Today, algorithms play a much larger role in the match or outright odds an individual chooses than merely opening up the newspaper and reading about them. For example, football/soccer analysis today includes weather reports and match and player statistics, and horse racing odds today come from powerful algorithms that check, in real-time, crucial factors such as horse pedigree and history, weather reports, and track conditions. Unlike social media platforms like Instagram, these algorithms do not show you what they think you want to see, but rather the best possible outcome based on quantitative analysis.
In 2020, the sports betting industry in the United States alone produced revenue of 1.55 billion dollars, and it is hard to imagine this figure would be this high had technology not played a role. The use of algorithms makes individuals feel like they are placing bets based on quantitative, mathematical analysis rather than choosing a horse on a whim or because they have a unique name.
Technology is still advancing in 2021, and sometimes, it can feel like it is working against us. We live in a world concerned with privacy and obsessed with social media. Unfortunately, this is not a good combination because social media platforms like Instagram would not be what they are without different algorithms sorting through posts to create a world unique to specific individuals. However, it is important to remember that algorithms are not always bad. The sports betting industry has demonstrated this by using algorithms to predict odds based on quantitative analysis, not the team or horse it thinks people would like the most.