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HBO has launched a recommendation tool based on the opinions of real people. While Netflix viewers are accustomed to automated suggestions being thrown their way, HBO is undermining the authority of algorithms in favor of a less predictable but more satisfying solution.

Recommended by Humans is HBO’s 'human-powered' tool, designed to bring real-life conversation back into people’s sofa screen sessions. Instead of relying on a user’s viewing history and the predictive power of algorithms, it sifts through discussion threads on Twitter and arranges interviews with people to uncover what shows are popular. The service then packages these interviews on to one site where viewers can scan through and decide what to watch based on the recommendations and ruminations of an online community. It has launched with just 150 tweets and a handful of interviews, but it’s expected to grow.

HBO human recommendation tool shuns 'inauthentic' AI HBO human recommendation tool shuns 'inauthentic' AI
Grant (2018) ©

As the media landscape fragments due to the arrival of new streaming platforms and growth of existing oneschoice fatigue is very much on the up. The print renaissance and the comeback of cassette tapes hint at how people are looking to move away from automated content experiences, which are increasingly viewed as ‘inauthentic’, in favour of something more tangible. With Disney and Netflix vying for the same market, HBO’s creation of a more colorful, conversation-led platform may help it stand out in an increasingly competitive sector.

Matilda Ruck is a Junior Behavioural Analyst at Canvas8. She has a degree in Politics and Philosophy as well as a foundation in psychotherapy. She's passionate about exploring the interplay between creativity, psychology and culture. Outside of work, you can find her writing short stories, tending to her ginger cat Thomas O’Malley or oscillating between yoga and karaoke practice.


13 Aug 19
2 min read

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