selling on amazon.com

A case-based reasoning system is a type of ‘expert system.’ It attempts to match the facts on hand to a data base of prior “cases.” When a case-based reasoning system finds one or more cases in its data-base that closely matches the facts at hand, it then evaluates and reports the most common outcomes. Given enough cases, such a system can prove very useful. Even better, if a case-based system automatically captures cases as they occur, then it will become a powerful tool that continually fine –tunes its results as it gains experience. Amazon.com relies on just such a system to refer books to its customers. Like many e-commerce sites, Amazon allows visitors to sarch for, buy, and review books. Amazon. com takes its database interactivity a step further. Given a particular book title, its case-based reasoning engine examines all past sales of that book to see if the customers who bought that book shared other book purchases in common. It then produces a short list and presents that list to the user. The overall effect approaches that of a sales clerk who says “Oh! If you like this book, then you’ll really like reading these as well.” However, Amazon’s system has the experience of hundreds of millions more transactions than the most wizened and well-read sales clerk. Equipped with this information, a customer may consider purchasing additional books; better information increases the customer’s confidence in the purchase and encourages sales.

What is the source of expertise behind Amazon’s online book recommendations?

How do you feel about online merchants tracking your purchases and using this information to recommend additional purchases?

What measures protect consumers from their government obtaining their personal shopping histories maintained by Amazon?

Although Amazon doesn’t share personal information, it still capitalizes on the shopping data of its customers. Is this ethical? Should Amazon offer its customers the right to opt out of this information gathering?

What obligations do organizations have to secure your private data from unauthorized access?

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