Christopher Mims

A View from Christopher Mims

Who We're Having Affairs With, According to Google Autocomplete

Married men, coworkers, bosses, and professors, in that order.

  • November 7, 2011

Google Autocomplete suggests, in real time, ways to complete your searches. The algorithms behind the feature rely on a number of factors when determining what to show you, but it’s safe to say that for requests that are not regional or about breaking news, the primary criterion is simple popularity.

The best data suggest that 15 to 18 percent of people who have ever been married have had an affair.

The fourth item in the screenshot above may be specific to my own Google history, because lately I’ve been searching for this article about an affair with a professor whenever I want to send it to someone as a great example of confessional first person writing. (Google autocomplete is also informed by your search history.) So I’m curious if readers’ results vary. Give it a shot! Then leave it in the comments.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.