Will algorithms help your business, or take it away?

10/16/2016

Algorithms have gone mainstream. Many could be imported into life insurance, including the six described below. But is this a good thing?

By The Integrate Team

Thanks to facial recognition, some retailers can greet customers by name as they walk in.

#1

Facial recognition

Coming to a smartphone near you! The latest apps use algorithms to match faces in pictures to global databases of known faces. Some retailers can greet customers by name as they walk in (with their permission). Facial recognition is already a big deal in Russia, with the FindFace app.

#2

Showing adverts

Ads on the internet are sold using Real Time Bidding algorithms. This means spaces are sold off individually in a microsecond to automated bidding machines, which calculate bid amounts depending on the user, time of day, weather, and inventory numbers and so on.

#3

Routing engineers

A mobile network wanted to upgrade more than 5,000 base stations. But in what order should its engineers travel to each station? The number of possible journeys would take centuries to calculate manually. So consultancy Satalia used algorithms to find the most mathematically efficient sequence, saving time and money.

#4

Airline prices

We’ve all seen airline prices shoot up and down with seemingly little logic. In fact there’s a lot of computing power at work, as a pricing algorithm works out the stock, selling rate, passenger profiles and so on. Lufthansa uses a modified version of the same algorithm used to detect the Higgs Boson at the Hadron Collider at CERN.

#5

Bug finding

Coders can be driven crazy by bugs in their scripts. Now algorithms are being used to identify the glitches. Google’s a pioneer in this area.

#6

Sports teams

The pioneer of algorithms in sport was Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. He found certain numbers could identify talented players more reliably than intuition. Selection algorithms are now used routinely in baseball and in the English football Premier League.

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