Machine Learning
Everyday Encounters: Data So Good, It's Scary
May 11, 2017 Erik Peterson

We have two cars: one that’s destined for the junkyard, but with a set of brand new new tires, and another that’s new car but with old tires. While I’m not much of a “car guy,” I’m comfortable changing my own tires.

The only working jacks I have access to are the cheap jacks you find in the trunk of a car. I jacked up the car, but the project immediately went sideways - literally - by bending my poor jack in half. Head hung in shame, I gave up and called my dad to ask if he’d mind bringing his floor jack into town.

He came by with a real jack, and saved the day. All done, all good.

The morning - today - I sat down at my desk and, like magic, every ad I see on every website I visit is somehow related to Amazon’s sudden and unprecedented desire to sell me a floor jack.

Woah, wait…. what?!?!

At this point, I was overwhelmed by a strange sense of shock, awe and confusion. How in the world did Amazon know?

I double checked my browsing history and my recollection:

  • No searches for jacks of any kind.
  • No mention of my troubles on any social media website.
  • No google searches for “Changing tires for keyboard jockeys”.
  • Everyone else in the house denies making any searches related to tires or jacks.
  • I always wear my trusty tinfoil hat loose enough that I didn’t think Google had actually transcribed my phone conversation with my dad.

As far as I could gather only two people on this fine planet knew the story of my poor bent, cheaply made jack. Two people and ..somehow, now, Amazon.

 

I’ve since figured out the mystery, but is it obvious to anyone else?… Comment below if you have a guess and stay tuned...

Erik Peterson
DevOps & Cloud Infrastructure