A-I Shopping Buddy

Hey Siri – want to go shopping?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

I can always use a second opinion at the mall! But if I need a top to go with the pants I bought online? No worries! Artificial intelligence offers up the PERFECT outfit! 

But Sihua Chen of China’s Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics and colleagues wondered … is it TOO much of a good thing? How much should we rely on our AI friends? 

They experimented with two GIANT online shopping platforms in China. Each platform had three batches of about thirty volunteers browsing to buy keyboards and tires. Initial data from the subjects’ previous purchases varied by batch. This way, the strength and amount of the AI suggestions they received varied. 

The team then created a computer model and consulted with product experts to determine the quality of shopping decisions made.  

Results? With more AI recommendations, we just see what we’ve liked before. Our preferences don’t expand! This is called an information cocoon. By limiting our browsing, we miss different AND better options!

Looks like I need a new shopping buddy! And I don’t mean Alexa.

Reference: Chen, S., Qiu, H., Zhao, S., Han, Y., He, W., Siponen, M., … & Xiao, H. (2021). When more is less: The other side of artificial intelligence recommendation. Journal of Management Science and Engineering.