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Is the algorithm like the human brain?

The easy answer is yes because it was created by a human being, but let’s look at some science behind human brain behaviour.

We have a bundle of cells called the Reticular Activating System in our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through. The RAS, a net-like formation of nerve cells and their connections, lie deep within the brainstem, between the brain and the spinal cord. All of your senses (except smell, which goes to our brain's emotional center) are wired directly to this bundle of neurons.

The RAS is like a filter that works for your brain. It makes sure your brain doesn't have to deal with more information than it can handle. Thus, the reticular activating system plays a big role in the sensory information you perceive every minute of the day.

When researchers sought to measure information processing capabilities during conscious activities, such as reading, they came up with a maximum capability of 50-100 bits per second. For example, a typical reading rate of 300 words per minute works out to about 5 words per second. Assuming an average of 5 characters per word and roughly 2 bits per character yields the aforementioned rate of 50 bits per second. Clearly, the exact number depends on various assumptions and could vary depending on the individual and the task being performed. It is known, however, that the senses gather some 11 million bits per second from the environment.

Obviously there is a tremendous amount of filtering down that needs to happen between your senses' 11 million bits per second and your conscious mind's capability of 50-100 bits per second. Your RAS is the way your brain has decided to handle this excessive information problem. It is uniquely suited to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant pieces of information. For example, it distinguishes between the honk of a car right next to you and one far down the street. The RAS is the reason when you have just bought a new car you start to see them everywhere suddenly.

Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it, hence the quote by Tony Robbins ‘Whatever you focus on is what you get…’. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favour without you actively doing anything. 

It filters the world through the parameters you give it, and your beliefs and values shape those parameters. If you think you are bad at giving presentations, you probably will be. If you believe you work efficiently, you most likely do. The RAS helps you see what you want to see and in doing so, influences your actions.

So, what has RAS got to do with algorithm?

An algorithm can be defined as a set of rules or calculations to be used to solve problems and deliver a result. Algorithms are used in social media to deliver content to the user. News feeds use algorithms to determine the content to show you based on your interests, activity and interactions on the platform. 

So how does an algorithm work on social media? Well it acts very similar to the RAS in the brain. It filters out the millions of posts that are posted daily on social media based on your preferences, likes, interest and engagement and places them in your news feed.

Here are the specific factors that influence you seeing a post.(modified from

Interest – How much LinkedIn thinks you want to see a post. This is based on past content you’ve viewed, liked, hashtags you are following and interacted with.

Recency – How recently the content was posted, prioritising timely posts over week old posts.

Relationship – Your relationship with the user who posted the content. Users you’ve interacted with most in the form of comments, likes, tags and direct messages will appear higher in the news feed.

Furthermore, three secondary factors also determine if you see a post in your news feed:

Frequency – How often you open LinkedIn, as the algorithm with show you the best post since your last visit.

Following – The more people you follow the less frequently you’ll see multiple posts from the same people.

Usage – The time you spent in LinkedIn will also determine which posts LinkedIn chooses to show you. The more time you spend on the platform, the more variety of posts you will see.

How to get what you are interested in on the LinkedIn platform or any social media platform:

Follow appropriate hashtags.

Connect and follow likeminded people.

Engage with likes, comments and shares on content that interests you.

DM connections who inspire you, engage in a more in-depth way.

Follow groups and companies that interest you.

You might need you to do a purge of the above, and set your RAS or algorithm accordingly. 

Remember we get what we focus on. With 2020 approaching, set those goals that align to your mission & purpose.

Here are some further VLOG's of mine on the above subject:

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