One of my proudest achievements at Spotify: Your Time Capsule. We combined behavioral science and machine learning to understand people through the music they listen to -- and designed an algorithm that evokes feelings of nostalgia. It was one of our most successful product launches in the last couple of years.
Spotify Has the Only Algorithms I Don't Fear (New York Magazine): "As algorithms — such as those Facebook and Google use to curate and sort content — come under scrutiny for their hidden, immense power, they’ve become stand-ins for all the evils of the tech industry. But there are good algorithms still out there, working their magic in mysterious ways. Take, for instance, whatever the hell they’re doing at Spotify.
I’m not the only one who’s been impressed by my Time Capsule playlist — Twitter is full of wide-eyed people shocked at how accurate Spotify was at describing their teenage music choices. The vibe is very “David Blaine just levitated in front of us” — the playlist acting as a fun and shocking magic trick.
Maybe most important, it’s just for me, and it’s just a list of songs I like. Compare that with matching algorithms like Facebook’s People You May Know, which has the capacity to recommend secret family members with no mutual connections to a user, or shopping algorithms that know you’re pregnant based on the items that you’re buying or browsing, or algorithms that can analyze a user’s interests to assume a user’s sexual orientation. The trouble with algorithms, Spotify shows, isn’t the algorithms. It’s companies that wrap them around our lives in ways we don’t understand and can’t control. That’s the scary encroaching future. Algorithms that do nothing more complicated than serve up pop-punk songs are exactly what a tech utopia promises."